Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Craig Coughlin, Tim Eustace, Gordon Johnson and Carmelo G. Garcia that would bring motor vehicle insurance requirements in line with 21st century technology was unanimously approved by the full Assembly on Thursday.
Specifically, the bill (A-3905) would allow operators of motor vehicles to provide proof of insurance electronically.
“Nowadays, nearly everything is being accepted in electronic format, from airplane boarding passes and concert tickets to more and more insurance companies now providing electronic copies of car insurance,” said Coughlin (D-Middlesex). “Making e-copies a valid form of proof of insurance is a natural and appropriate progression to make life more convenient for motorists. For families especially, where multiple people might share the same car, this should make life easier not having to worry about having a paper insurance card every time someone takes the car out.”
Under current law, an operator of a motor vehicle who is asked to provide proof of insurance may display to a police officer or judge only an insurance identification card in traditional, paper form. This bill would allow drivers to provide an insurance identification card in either paper or electronic form.
Under the bill, “electronic form” means the display of images on an electronic device, such as a cellular telephone, tablet, or computer, which must conform with regulations prescribed by the NJ Department of Banking and Insurance.
“This bill makes sense in light of the ever increasing use of electronic devices in people’s every day lives and the emergence of a number of companies insurance companies allowing consumers to display their insurance cards on their mobile devices,” said Eustace (D-Bergen/Passaic). “This legislation will allow New Jersey law to keep pace with the current technological advancements that are available to residents.”
“Nowadays anybody with a smart phone usually never leaves home without it. Meanwhile, how many times have we all either misplaced our insurance card or forgot to replace an expired one?” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “This is an easy and convenient change that will help ensure a driver doesn’t have to go through the hassle of getting caught without proof of valid insurance on them.”
The bill specifies that the use of an electronic device to display proof of insurance does not constitute consent for a police officer or judge to access any other contents on the device. Further, the bill provides that any police officer or judge presented with an electronic device pursuant to the bill’s provisions shall be immune from any liability resulting from damage to the device.
“This bill takes advantage of 21st century technology to simplify life for New Jersey drivers,” said Garcia (D-Hudson). “I think it’s a common sense measure in line with the times that will hopefully ensure that no one gets caught driving without proof of insurance on them.”
The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.