Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Two New Laws Regarding Automobile Insurance

Electronic Proof of Automobile Insurance

Senate Bill 1775 was passed and went into effect in late August that now allows drivers to provide proof of their required automobile liability insurance on their portable electronic devices, during traffic stops and at court.

Police officers and court officials are provided immunity for any damage that occurs to electronic devices given to them for this purpose (i.e. dropping the phone in a puddle during a traffic stop).

However, the bill is clear that providing the device to an officer to show proof of insurance “does not constitute consent . . . to access other contents of the electronic device.”  As such, an officer should ask for separate consent to look at the phone’s call or message history if the traffic stop was predicated on the driver improperly using an electronic device.

A side note: Insurance companies are not required to provide electronic proof of insurance, and even if they do, the policy holder can still request paper versions of the policy and insurance cards.

Proof of Insurance Needed to Register a Vehicle

Another bill, SB 1940, will require anyone who registers a vehicle with the Secretary of State to provide valid liability insurance at the time of application, beginning in 2016.  Currently, the registration form and renewal form requests the applicant’s insurance information, but registration is not withheld if the applicant fails to provide the insurance information.

The information that must be provided includes the name of the insurance company, policy number, and expiration date of the policy.  Also beginning in 2016, any person who knowingly submits false insurance information with a vehicle registration would be guilty of a misdemeanor.


David W. McArdle

Author: David McArdle