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Why can not Canadians show police evidence of insurance on their phone?

26 Sep 17
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We just moved to Surrey from San Diego, and I was amazed when the insurance guy here said ICBC does not allow you to reveal police your insurance information with a program, like we could in California. Is that true? It sounds kind of backward. — Ron, Surrey, B.C.

Even in British Columbia, you still must keep loads of paper in your glove compartment.

“You must legally take the first or unaltered photocopy of the owner’s certificate of insurance and vehicle licence from the automobile while it’s operated,” said Lindsay Olsen, spokeswoman for the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).

You will need the paperwork even though, in B.C., your license plate stickers demonstrate that you are insured for the year.

And, no, there is no app for it. Olsen said that there are “no immediate plans” to allow drivers to take evidence of insurance on their own phones.

At the moment, no state allows electronic evidence of insurance if you are pulled over — but 46 U.S. states do.

“It is all about convenience,” said Alex Hageli with the (PCI), a business group that encouraged the laws. “I’ve heard countless stories about how people got pulled over and they realize, ‘Oh, this is expired’ or ‘I have three cards, and they are all older than three months, so I will find a ticket.'”

Connecticut, New Mexico and Washington, D.C. do not yet allow it. Massachusetts does not require evidence of insurance and New Hampshire .

In its , Ontario announced it would allow digital evidence of insurance and require insurance companies to give discounts to customers who opt for it, but no date was set, and the state is still trying to work out how it will work, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) stated in an e-mail announcement.

“Electronics cards would enable drivers to verify their proof of insurance via their mobile device, rather than the present paper pink cards issued by insurers,” stated FSCO spokesman Malon Edwards. “However, drivers would continue to be responsible for confirming their proof of insurance, either electronically or with a paper copy, upon request{}”

We checked with other states, and no one else has immediate plans in the works.

Slips sliding off?

In Canada, the insurance industry says clients are asking to eliminate paper.

“Especially with the dilemma of identity theft, leaving private documents within the car is not the best thing to do,” said Pete Karageorgos, manager of Ontario consumer and business relations with the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Can it also cut costs for insurance companies?

“You gotta recall, from the insurer’s perspective, they might need to administer unique lists because not all people will want to receive it {}” Karageorgos said. “There might be a cost to doing both simultaneously.”

So, should you carry your license on the telephone, will you still require a paper backup?

In the USA, a paper backup is recommended but not mandatory. Rather, states require that you carry either an electronic copy or a paper copy.

“There was some discussion of requiring both, but that would have defeated the purpose,” Hageli stated.

This works in practice can vary. Some companies provide apps. Others allow you to click on an email to set your insurance card into your smartphone’s wallet, together with your credit cards, frequent flyer cards and concert tickets.

“So if I am driving in the middle of nowhere without a reception, I am still able to get my e-card,” Hageli stated. “Theoretically, you can print something out or simply have a photo of your card on the internet and that is good enough.”

Privacy risks?

But there are concerns: Authorities were worried that if a motorist reaches into his pocket to catch a telephone, officers might think he’s a gun, Hageli stated.

And what happens to your telephone if officers take it to the squad car to test it? Could they access your surfing history, personal texts and e-mails? Should they fall your phone or scrape it, could you sue?

If you are using a card on your iPhone’s wallet, by way of instance, you can put your telephone so only the wallet can be obtained while the phone’s locked, preventing someone from viewing anything else, but that would not work for programs or a PDF.

Rather, state laws generally say that officers can not access your data, and they are not accountable for damage to your cell phone.

For Instance, States, “Presentation of evidence of insurance in digital format will not constitute consent for law enforcement, justice of the peace, or other state officials to get other contents of the mobile phone or other mobile electronic device, and won’t enlarge or restrict authority to conduct a search or investigation.”

Have a compelling question? Send it to . Canada’s a big place, so tell us where you are so we can get the answer for your town and state.

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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