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Electronic Proof of Insurance – Indiana Following Other States

On July 1, 2013, Indiana passed a law that allows drivers to show proof of insurance electronically; in early August, Colorado became the 24th state to do so. The benefits of drivers having proof on their phones are clear. As long as you have your cell phone or other electronic device with you, you will also have your proof. Many policyholders, me included, forget to switch the proof of insurance when the old one expires. Having updated and legal proof of insurance on your electronic device can save you a ticket, or a trip to the courthouse to show your proof. However, showing electronic proof raises a few questions in my mind:

  1. Do I have to hand my cell phone or other electronic device to the police officer?

  2. If I do hand the device over, does that give the officer the right to search other information?

  3. Who is responsible if information is lost while the device is in the officer’s possession?

  4. Who is responsible for any accidental damage done to the device during the transaction?

  5. Is there a way to protect my photos and information from theft?

Whether it is because of a broken tail light, speeding, or an accident, most drivers are asked to show their proof of insurance and driver’s license to a police officer at some point in their life. Sometimes the officer will verify and hand you back your proof before they take your license to their car to radio for warrants or bulletins out on you. Other times, the officer may take your proof to his car as well. Who cares if the officer walks away with a piece of paper that contains only the information he needs. Electronic devices, on the other hand, can contain banking information, personal and business contacts and photos, and this brings up another issue for me.

If I surrender my phone to any law official, does that mean I am allowing him to search my phone, even if myindiana-proof-of-insurance intention is only to show proof of insurance? This gray area does not seem to have one answer, and some states do not have a precedence set. As recently as May of 2013 The Supreme Court of Florida ruled that it is illegal to search an electronic device (cell phone) without a warrant, you can read the whole decision here. Still, there are dishonest cops, just as there are dishonest people in all occupations, not to mention that your information could be lost accidentally.

Just who is responsible for valuable information, or the lost photo of your beloved great grandmother? According to a Colorado House Bill that the governor signed, the police can only use your phone to verify proof of insurance, but they are immune to any damages that occur if officer accidentally drops or otherwise damages an electronic device. See the bill in its entirety here.

It seems that only one of my questions has a definite answer. Yes, there is a way to protect your information and photos. Do not quit carrying your paper proof of insurance, and never allow anyone to walk away from you with your phone or other electronic device in his or her hands! Aside from protecting your personal information, policy holders should also consider that during their travels, they may cross state lines, and there may be unpleasant consequences if all they have with them is electronic proof of insurance that is not accepted in that state. The bottom line is drive safely, defensively, and still keep a paper copy of your proof of insurance just to be safe.

Penny Adams

Penny Adams

Penny Adams is a freelance professional writer. Articles written are original, highly researched, and complete with sources listed. When not writing or telephone fund raising for non-profit organizations, I enjoy spending time with my daughter and granddaughter, growing food, and exploring the great outdoors in Michigan.

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