Is an electronic car insurance card valid?
Last updated: January 1
If you are stopped by the police and asked to show your car insurance card, you may wonder if you need to dig through your glove box for the paper copy of the card, or if you can use an electronic insurance card. Whether you can use a digital card as proof of insurance after an accident or traffic stop depends on your state's law.
Which states allow an electronic car insurance card?
Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia permit drivers to show an electronic copy of their car insurance card on a mobile device during a traffic stop:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
*In Massachusetts, your vehicle's registration document will include your car insurance information.
The only state in which electronic proof of insurance is not explicitly accepted is New Mexico.
What is electronic proof of car insurance?
The availability of electronic proof of insurance varies by insurance company. Some insurers display an electronic copy of your auto ID card within their mobile app. Other companies allow customers to download a digital version of their auto ID cards from their website. Customers can then show law enforcement officers proof of insurance on any digital device, including a cellphone or tablet. States that allow electronic proof also accept paper copies of insurance cards for drivers who prefer the traditional format.
Privacy concerns for electronic insurance cards
Privacy and who is responsible if the law enforcement officer accidentally damages a driver's digital device are concerns that have been raised by consumers and lawmakers. Some states, such as Rhode Island, have addressed these concerns in their legislation. Rhode Island amended its law to include a provision that if a driver uses a mobile device for proof of insurance, the police officer is prohibited from viewing other information on the phone or tablet. Additionally, the law now specifies that motorists are responsible for any damage to the devices while in the possession of law enforcement.
Can you show proof of car insurance on your phone to another driver?
Once you are sure that everyone is safe after an accident, it's a good idea to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. You can show the other driver an electronic car insurance ID card, as it contains the same information as a paper insurance card.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, you should exchange the following information after an accident:
- Full name and contact information
- Insurance company and policy number
- Driver's license and license plate numbers
- Type, color and model of vehicle
- Location of accident
Check with your local motor vehicle department or law enforcement office to find out whether your state accepts electronic proof of insurance, and if so, under which circumstances or conditions.