Is It Legal to Show Proof of Car Insurance on Your Phone?

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Driving in rainy weather (Photo: @jk3030 via Twenty20)
It probably goes without saying that car insurance is vital. It can save you from total financial disaster if you’re involved in an accident. Beyond that, it’s a legal requirement for drivers in 48 states, with Virginia and New Hampshire being the only exceptions. And even in those states, it’s simply not a smart idea to drive without car insurance.
But car insurance is also changing with the times, which means it’s adapting to a technological world. Nearly every car insurance company now has a smartphone app, and those smartphone apps almost always feature proof of your insurance. While it used to be that you had to have a large chunk of papers to provide proof of insurance, you can now do so right from that nifty phone that sits in your pocket.
So, what exactly is proof of insurance, and is it valid if you show it on your phone? Read on to find out.

What is proof of car insurance?

Proof of car insurance is exactly what it sounds like. It’s simply proof that your car is insured by a car insurance company. Proof of car insurance will display a lot of basic information about your car insurance policy.
On the proof of car insurance you’ll find information such as the name of the insurance company providing the insurance, the car that is being insured, the drivers that are insured under the policy, the effective date and expiration date, and the policy number.
With that information, you’re able to share your insurance with anyone you’ve been involved in an accident with, and prove to law enforcement that your car is adequately insured. You can also use your proof of insurance to reference your own insurance information, such as when your policy expires.

What are the different forms of proof of car insurance?

In general, proof of insurance comes in three basic forms. The first is a standard insurance card, which most car insurance companies will send to you when you purchase insurance from them. A proof of car insurance card is the size of a credit card, so it fits in your wallet or in your car’s glove compartment.
The second form of proof of car insurance is a print-out of your policy. You can print the policy yourself by logging onto your insurance company’s website, or you should have received a printout of the policy in the mail when you initially signed up. Many people like to keep this printout in their car at all times.
And the third and most modern form of proof of car insurance is on your phone. Almost every car insurance company has a smartphone app that allows you to access your proof of car insurance card directly on your phone.

Can you show proof of car insurance on your phone?

Yes. For a while, proof of car insurance on your phone was only legal in a few states. But as it grew more and more popular, states caught on and started changing their laws. Now you are able to use proof of car insurance on your phone in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. If you need to show a law enforcement officer that your car is insured, you can reach for your smartphone.

Should you show proof of car insurance on your phone?

While proof of car insurance on your phone is legal and valid, it’s always a good idea to carry multiple forms of proof of car insurance. It’s recommended that you keep a printout in your glove compartment and/or an insurance card in your wallet. That way if there’s any problem with your phone, you still have a backup method for proving that you’re insured.
Furthermore, if you’re stopped by a police officer or highway patrol officer and asked to provide proof of insurance, let them know it’s on your phone before you reach for it. Officers are used to drivers reaching for the glove compartment, and might worry if you reach into your pocket that you’re grabbing a weapon. Be sure to let them know what you’re doing before you do it.
Proof of car insurance is a necessity for anyone with insurance, but thankfully it’s never been more accessible than it is now.