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More Californians using smartphones for proof of auto insurance

June 07, 2013|By Marc Lifsher
  • Smartpones are making fumbling through the glove box for a proof-in-insurance card a thing of the past.
Smartpones are making fumbling through the glove box for a proof-in-insurance… (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles…)

SACRAMENTO -- Tired of rooting around in the car's glove compartment for a crumpled proof-of-insurance card when you're unlucky enough to be pulled over by a traffic cop?

No worry, if you have a smartphone or tablet computer.

California is the seventh of 24 states in the country to make it legal to show an electronic proof of insurance.

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On Jan. 1, California began allowing drivers to use the so-called e-insurance cards. By showing an electronic image, motorists can avoid trips to the courthouse to produce the paper insurance slip they couldn't find as they nervously rummaged through old maps, owner's manuals and gas receipts. The e-version also lets them avoid having to pay fix-it tickets if forced to go to traffic court because they couldn't find the paper document for the police officer.

"Electronic proof of coverage is the wave of the future given how prevalent smartphones have become," said Alex Hageli, director for personal lines at the Property Casualty Insurers Assn. of America.

Under California's law, neither insurance companies nor policyholders are required to issue or use electronic documents. Nevertheless, their use is growing and the service is being advertised by Geico, Esurance, Progressive and other companies.

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