Québec: first province to adopt a modern approach to the pink card

Fadi Kayaleh, Bilingual Communications Specialist | RCCAQ blog

The Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators (CCIR) approved a plan to introduce an electronic option for proof of automobile insurance for Canada, using mobile devices in place of the traditional paper pink slip. The plan targets implementing eSlips across the provinces and territories in the first half of 2017. Once implemented, paper will no longer be required for motorists to show they have automobile insurance coverage. Instead, they can display a digital copy on their mobile device.

Update on the situation

Quebec is already halfway through - its regulator (the AMF) allows insurers to email customers a certificate of insurance including the prescribed content as the printing and mailing of Hard copies are still required in other provinces such as Ontario and Alberta. However, with CCIR’s announcement, regulators across the country are ready to implement “eSlips” in the coming months.

Industry and consumer demand for eSlips has grown in recent years — to the tune of 31% of Canadians who are interested in using their mobile devices to store and display digital ID or proof of auto insurance (Forrester). In fact, some brokers are going so far as to design mobile apps that allow customers to do just that, whether regulators approve or not.

The number one, most-used feature of our app is digital pink slips,” says Sherif Gemayel, president of Sharp Insurance in Calgary. “So the clients will actually use their app to show proof of auto insurance. As it’s not legal yet in Canada, we have a disclaimer on the app that says clients still have to carry their paper pink card in their car, but they’ve never had an issue with it.” Many Sharp customers report that police have readily accepted eSlips displayed on their mobile phone during traffic stops, suggesting that Canadian consumers and police officers alike are open to an update to existing regulations.

The benefits of the electronic pink card

Proof of electronic automobile insurance will benefit the brokerage industry in many ways including:

  • Meeting clients’ expectations for digital delivery of insurance documents
  • Reduce operational costs for printing and shipping of automobile insurance policies
  • Meet the benefits of the CSIO “eDelivery” solution by sending electronic copies of their policies to policyholders without having to send a paper copy

In February 2016, CSIO released its eSlips advisory report to educate the broker channel on the legal landscape surrounding eSlips and to advocate for regulatory acceptance. During the same period, the Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators (CCIR) announced a major step forward in its initiative to study the issue, releasing its issues paper and conducting a public consultation in May.

CCIR identified issues for further study including:

  • Consistency of regulations between jurisdictions.
  • Liability for damage and protection of privacy when mobile devices are handled by law enforcement (e.g., what happens if an officer drops the customer’s phone, damaging it?)
  • Liability for telecommunications carriers where the electronic device is unable to download and display the eSlip. • Safeguards against fraud.

The American example

When envisioning just what eSlips could look like in Canada, it is worth taking some time to study our neighbours to the south.

Since 2011, the number of states accepting eSlips in one form or another has risen from 0 to 43, which accounts for 86% of all jurisdictions. Unlike the CCIR’s unified approach, laws can vary from state to state. While this variation may lead to confusion for drivers crossing state lines, it provides many opportunities to see how various approaches to regulation work in practice.

For instance, North Carolina allows insurers to send an insurance card electronically, but still requires drivers to carry a paper copy for traffic stops. To address privacy concerns, New Jersey legislation states 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.”

CSIO has maintained communications with CCIR throughout 2016, and we look forward to working with all industry stakeholders to implement eSlips and deliver the digital experience that consumers expect from today’s insurance industry in 2017.