Canadian Underwriter

Ontario approves electronic proof of auto insurance

September 5, 2019   by Jason Contant

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Ontario has become the fourth province in Canada to approve the use of electronic proof of auto insurance (EPAI) for drivers, effective immediately.

The approval, announced Thursday morning by Ontario’s Minister of Finance, Rod Phillips, follows the lead of Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia was the first province to approve electronic pink slips in January 2018, followed by Newfoundland and Labrador in July 2019 and Alberta last month.

Ontario’s Minister of Finance, Rod Phillips (centre), announces the approval of electronic pink slips in Ontario.

Speaking at a press conference at a CAA South Central Ontario store in Markham, Phillips said there will be a one-year phase-in period, during which time insurers will continue to issue paper versions as well as electronic versions for customers that request that option.

“This period will also [allow] consumers, regulators, insurers and law enforcement – all groups that we’ve consulted with extensively on this – [to] see if there are any changes that are necessary to make this program better,” Phillips said during the press conference. “Rummaging through your [glove compartment] for your little pink slip is not something that should be necessary in 2019.”

The electronic pink slips in Ontario will feature “sophisticated safeguards,” Phillips said. “They can’t be edited or altered. Features cannot be included to enable anyone to track your location or collect, use or disclose your data without explicit permission from you.”

The approval of electronic pink slips in Ontario was a long time coming.

As early as December 2015, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP and the Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO) advocated for EPAI in the eSlips Advisory Report: E-Delivery of Motor Vehicle Insurance Cards. In the wake of that report, the Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators launched consultations in the spring and summer of 2016 regarding the adoption of EPAI.

In the interim, some brokers were already offering versions of EPAI, even though Ontario had not yet created a regulatory framework for them. CSIO had an industry-based solution ready to launch in June 2017.

After Nova Scotia approved EPAI in January 2018, Canadian Underwriter approached the provincial regulator – the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, and now the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario – for regular updates on the EPAI file. When last contacted in early August, FSRA said that it was continuing “to work with the government and stakeholders to enable the use of electronic pink cards for consumers. We have no further updates at this time.”

Ontario’s budget in April 2019 indicated that it would bring EPAI to Ontario drivers and allow for “more competition in the auto insurance market.” Earlier this year, the government commissioned a poll of Ontarians about ways to make auto insurance more accessible, more affordable and more convenient, Phillips said. Fifty-one thousand people provided comments, including 68% who said that they believe insurers needed to provide them with more options in terms of online and digital tools.

Phillips said the government needed to work with insurers, consumer groups such as CAA, law enforcement, and officials and experts in privacy. It also consulted with the other provinces that approved EPAI. “It took us that time to make sure it would be done right.”

Insurance Bureau of Canada welcomed the news. “Being able to provide digital documents to today’s tech-savvy consumer is a baseline expectation of service we are thrilled to now be able to provide,” Kim Donaldson, vice president of IBC’s Ontario region, said in a press release. Most U.S. states also allow digital proof of insurance, “and we anticipate more provinces will follow suit in the near future.”

Canada’s largest insurer, Intact, announced Thursday an enhanced digital proof of insurance (pink card) on the Intact Insurance and belairdirect apps. The digital pink card can be used in Quebec, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia, and “in Ontario following review of the regulations released today,” Intact said.

Aviva Canada, Canada’s second-largest insurer, applauded the government’s decision to approve the use of electronic pink slips and talked of moving onto the next phase. “We continue to meet with other governments and regulators in order to advance eSlips approval in their provinces,” said Phil Gibson, managing director of personal insurance at Aviva Canada.

“Offering a paperless option is the next step in modernizing the auto insurance industry and a move welcomed by CAA and its members,” said Matthew Turack, president of CAA Insurance. “In a recent survey conducted for CAA Insurance, nearly two-thirds of respondents expressed interest in having access to electronic proof of their auto insurance coverage.”

Added CSIO president and CEO Catherine Smola: “The recent announcement of the Ontario government’s decision to approve the use of eSlips is what consumers have been waiting for and we are thrilled with this news. The benefits of eSlips are tremendous and now carriers and brokers can give their customers the experience they expect, allowing them to access their proof of insurance on their phones, anywhere, anytime.”

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6 Comments » for Ontario approves electronic proof of auto insurance
  1. Brij Goberdhan FIIC ACII says:

    No one thought to make owners aware that while they may receive that electronic liability card there will be instances of the owner authorizing others to drive who will find themselves in a predicament when stopped by police. A friend who borrows your car will not have the e card for e.g. With real time technology why don’t we simply tie the proof of insurance to the Plate in question for instant police verification?

    • Leon says:

      So you are asking that all insurance companies and banks share all clients’ information with the government/police office. Which is greatly against the idea of privacy and Security protection of citizens in Canada. I bet there will be much more complaints when companies start to share clients’ information to the government.

  2. Harley says:

    No Leon,

    He is saying that you should have both.

    One on your app and one in the car for second drivers.

  3. Roy says:

    If the insurance industry was serious about going paperless, they would convert the voluminous policy docs to electronic, especially for those of us that take our car off the road each winter. Any change at all results in them sending out the whole kit and caboodle every time. All my other docs …financial and almost all government, are paperless.

    • Norm says:

      Hi Roy,

      As part of the CSIO MPOI (My proof of insurance) initiative, you can receive your insurance documents, in addition to “Pink” cards, electronically. I believe most insurance companies either support this feature via MPOI enrollment or their own APP.

  4. Sheryl B says:

    As far as I can tell no amendment was passed to the law to support using your cell phone as proof of insurance. Also insurance papers are very difficult to verify on a phone screen.

    Whether you are buying insurance or renewing your policy, FSRA’s role, as a regulator, is to ensure that insurance companies’ proposed rates are fair and not excessive. We require that agents and businesses that sell auto insurance be licensed and follow all relevant legislative guidelines. We protect your rights when purchasing automobile insurance and review your complaints if an insurer is not following the rules.

    The law currently states
    R.S.O. 1990, CHAPTER C.25
    Consolidation Period: From December 8, 2020 to the e-Laws currency date.
    Last amendment: 2020, c. 36, Sched. 14, s. 4.
    Particulars to be disclosed
    4 (1) An operator of a motor vehicle on a highway who is directly or indirectly involved in an accident shall, on the request of any person directly or indirectly involved in the accident, disclose to the person the particulars of the contract of automobile insurance insuring the motor vehicle. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.25, s. 4 (1).
    (2) For the purposes of subsection (1),
    “particulars of the contract of automobile insurance” means,
    (a) the name and address of the insured,
    (b) the make, model and serial number of the insured vehicle,
    (c) the effective date and expiry date of the contract,
    (d) the name of the insurer,
    (e) the name of the insurer’s agent, if any, and
    (f) the policy number of the contract. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.25, s. 4 (2).
    (3) A person who contravenes subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $400. 1993, c. 10, s. 52 (2); 1996, c. 21, s. 50 (8).
    Section Amendments with date in force (d/m/y)
    1993, c. 10, s. 52 (2) – 01/01/1994; 1996, c. 21, s. 50 (8) – 01/11/1996
    Obligations of agents
    5 An agent shall,
    (a) provide to an owner or lessee of a motor vehicle who is a resident of Ontario an application for automobile insurance; and
    (b) submit to an insurer a completed application for automobile insurance,
    when requested to do so by the owner or lessee of a motor vehicle. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.25, s. 5; 1996, c. 21, s. 50 (9).
    Section Amendments with date in force (d/m/y)
    1996, c. 21, s. 50 (9) – 01/11/1996
    Insurance card to be issued
    6 (1) An insurer shall issue, or cause its agent to issue, an insurance card to a person with whom a contract of automobile insurance is made or whose contract of automobile insurance is renewed. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.25, s. 6 (1).
    (2) No insurer or its agent shall, on an insurance card, specify an effective date earlier than the date on which the contract of automobile insurance was actually made or misrepresent in any other way the particulars of the automobile insurance. R.S.O. 1990, c. C.25, s. 6 (2).

    I also contacted the MTO and got this response: Your insurance documentation must be kept in the car and it must be the original. I can forward the email if you want.

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