Proof of Insurance – Coming Soon to Smartphones?

Drivers who get pulled over by police might soon be reaching for their smartphones, instead of their glove compartments. A bill has been introduced in California by Assemblyman Mike Gatto. If the bill becomes passed into law, it would allow drivers to present their proof of auto insurance to law enforcement by showing the police officer their smartphone.

Other states, including Arizona and Idaho, have made some efforts towards creating similar laws. At this time, there aren’t any states that have officially approved this change to the way proof of insurance is presented. The California version of the bill will go before the Assembly Insurance Committee later this month. If this bill becomes a law, it could set a precedent for other states to create similar laws.

The exact details about how this all would work are a bit fuzzy at the moment. There is the potential that an app could be created that was specifically designed to display a person’s proof of insurance. Right now, there are plenty of apps that have been introduced by insurance companies that display customer information. However, none of them currently will show proof of insurance.

It seems that to make this work, it would require the Department of Motor Vehicles to provide registration papers to consumers electronically. Right now, this is not something that the DMV in California will do. They do not provide scanned copies of documents to customers.

Assemblyman Mike Gatto notes that this could work without the creation of new app. He points out that drivers could scan their own insurance forms into their smartphones themselves. When a traffic stop occurs, the driver could easily bring up that information on their smartphone, and hand the device to the police officer.

There are some advantages to being able to present a digital copy of your proof of insurance. You wouldn’t have to dig frantically through your glove compartment, searching for those important papers, while a police officer waits. It would be harder for you to accidentally lose your proof of insurance. If your car gets stolen, the thief wouldn’t be able to find your insurance card, and learn where you live.

On the other hand, some are fearful that handing your smartphone to a police officer could open you up to revealing more than you really wanted to. There would have to be privacy laws in place that would prevent officers from looking through your smartphone for more information about you, that you did not consent to give out.

Image: Traffic Stop by BigStock