Lost ID Cards May Be Thing of the Past as States Go Electronic

Update: 5:43 p.m. EST

Insurance agents getting calls from clients about lost auto-insurance cards could soon become a thing of the past as more states seek to legalize the use of electronic ID cards.

Wyoming is looking to become the latest state to adopt such a system, with legislators considering a bill that would allow motorists to use an electronic format for proof of insurance for a police stop.

Christian J. Rataj, state affairs manager for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, says the association “commends the Wyoming Legislature for considering a consumer-friendly, environment-friendly, and law-enforcement-friendly proof of insurance bill that addresses the modern realities of the electronic communications age, where consumers maintain a host of important personal records on their mobile devices.”

Rataj says that one positive point in the proposed legislation (SF 87), which awaits a state Senate-committee hearing, is that it does not require insurers to offer the electronic format, instead allowing them to offer it as an option.

Alex Hageli, director, personal lines policy for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, says there is only one sentence in the proposed bill that is problematic. It deals with information being maintained in the state’s online-verification system. His concern is that there could be lag time between card issuance and upload to the state’s system. This could create a problem for a motorist who presents the card not knowing the information was not yet received by the state. He recommends the sentence be removed, pointing out that no other state has it.

Currently, there are six states that allow law enforcement to use electronic format as proof on insurance, says Rataj. Colorado allows its use only for motor-vehicle registration. He says legislation to allow law enforcement to use it there is pending.

Late last year, California became the latest state to allow electronic proof of insurance.

Hageli says a number of additional states are examining allowing electronic identification, which would be especially nice for people who forget to take their card with them.

“If you always have your phone with you, you always have your card with you,” says Hageli.

Besides Colorado expanding the use of the electronic card, and Wyoming’s legislation, Hageli says other states where the format is under consideration include Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Maine, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas and Washington State.

In addition to California, states that allow electronic format as proof of insurance during a traffic stop are Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana and Minnesota.

He says the companies that he is aware of that are offering the electronic insurance card include Allstate, Liberty Mutual, and USAA. Progressive is on the verge of a roll out and GEICO is supportive of it.

A spokeswoman for State Farm says customers can access their insurance ID card through the company's Pocket Agent app.

Justin Herndon, a spokesman for Allstate, says the company does not offer an app for that purpose yet, but customers can access their ID card with their smart phone by accessing their account information.

A spokesman for Progressive says customers can view their insurance ID card on their cell phone through the company's app.

“This is one of those subjects that everyone is supportive of,” says Hageli. “It is only a matter of time before every [insurer] develops the apps.” 

Update: 5:43 p.m. EST with company information from State Farm, Allstate and Progressive.

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