TORONTO – Ontario drivers can now carry electronic proof of their auto insurance on their smartphones or other devices.
Finance Minister Rod Phillips said the pink paper insurance slip isn’t being eliminated yet, but being able to display the information on a phone will be more convenient for many drivers.
“We’ve all had enough paper in our lives, at least me, for one, I have experienced rummaging through the glove box, looking for that little pink slip,” Phillips said as he made the announcement on Thursday. “Well, as of today your rummaging days are over if you choose this electronic option.”
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There will be a one-year phase-in period, when insurers will have to issue a paper card in addition to the electronic option if it is requested.
Phillips said drivers in Alberta, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador can already display their proof of insurance electronically.
“With the proliferation of mobile devices and apps and various add ons, it only makes sense that drivers in Ontario can take advantage of the same options that drivers in other provinces can,” he said.
The electronic cards will feature safeguards that won’t allow them to be altered or edited, and privacy concerns are top of mind, Phillips said.
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Drivers will be responsible for making sure their phone can display the proof of insurance, even with a poor signal, drained battery or damaged screen.
The Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, speaking for Ontario’s new car dealers, welcomed the news.
“In this advanced, technological age we live in, there is no good reason why drivers must carry a paper copy for proof of insurance,” director of government relations Frank Notte said in a statement.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada said consumers have digital options in other sectors such as banking and retail, so auto insurers are pleased their customers will have the same choice.
“We look forward to working with the government on other measures that will improve the auto insurance system for drivers,” the insurance bureau’s Ontario vice-president Kim Donaldson said in a statement.
Electronic proof of insurance was one of a number of ways the government signalled in its spring budget that it was going to reform auto insurance. The province is also reverting back to the default benefit of $2 million for those who are catastrophically injured in a collision, after it dropped to $1 million three years ago.