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New way to show proof of insurance? There’s an app for that

Add your auto insurer's app to your cellphone

Add your auto insurer's app to your cellphone and you'll have access at your fingertips. Credit: Newsday / William Perlman

Do you want one more thing on your smartphone? Your car insurer likely has an app for your insurance identification card that you can also use to file and track claims and make payments.

“Why wouldn’t you? Chances are you have your smartphone with you more than anything else on a daily basis. Many times, we’ve received calls from customers trying to rent a car, buying a new car or standing in line at the DMV needing proof ASAP. Just a couple of years ago we were faxing proof of insurance to the DMV or dealership just so the insured could complete the transaction. Now it’s as simple as opening your phone,” says John Espenschied, agency principal with Insurance Brokers Group in St Louis.

Carson Yarbrough, a personal finance specialist with creditcards.offers.com, points out that since 2015, New York and New Jersey accept electronic proof of insurance. “Connecticut still doesn’t accept digital proof of insurance, so keep that in mind if you’re in the area.”

It’s convenient, but Yarbrough says, “What if your device is broken or unable to display the proof of coverage? You could still be liable for a ticket.”

The answer: Ironically, have backup. Anthony Curren of Rick Curren Auto Sales and Service in Corning, says, “I have customers email me a copy of the ID card, and then I print it out for them as an extra copy, just in case the app crashes or their phone is dead when they get pulled over. The worst thing I can think is that they get into an accident, and then have no way of proving that they are insured.”

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