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More states allow electronic proof of insurance at traffic stops

By Barbara Marquand on August 7th, 2013

A growing number of states are making it easier to prove you have car insurance when pulled over at a traffic stop.

Twenty-seven states have passed laws to let drivers use their smartphones to show electronic proof of insurance, and legislation is pending in others. In states with e-card laws, you can show a digital image of the insurance card, instead of rifling through the glove compartment to find the paper card.

The digital proof-of-insurance trend gained steam quickly. Colorado led the pack as the first state to let car owners show electronic proof of insurance when registering their vehicles, and Idaho became the first in 2012 to let drivers show electronic proof at traffic stops. Several states followed suit last year, and 20 so far this year passed e-card laws. Legislation is pending in a few others.

Avoid needless tickets

Car insurance companies support e-card laws because the digital trend reduces printing and mailing costs. The new rules are good for consumers because they make it easier for drivers to prove they comply with state insurance mandates. Most states require car owners to insure their vehicles. Penalties for driving without insurance vary from $75 for a first offense in Idaho to $1,500 for a first offense in Delaware.

Even if you have insurance, you can still be ticketed if you're pulled over and can't produce a proof-of-insurance card. Although the tickets are easy to fix if you show the court you were insured at the time of the traffic stop, you still have go through the hassle of getting the citation dismissed.

Paper cards aren't disappearing, though. Even states with e-card laws also let you show the paper version, and it's probably a good idea to keep a paper copy in the car just in case.

Here are the states that let drivers show digital proof-of-insurance at traffic stops, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. Similar legislation is awaiting the governor's signature in Illnois, and bills are pending in state legislatures in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Florida

Georgia

Idaho

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

North Dakota

Oregon

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Virginia

Washington

Wisconsin

Wyoming

See average annual insurance rates for more than 2,000 vehicles

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