What You Need to Know: Ontario’s Digital Auto Insurance Cards

Drivers in Ontario have been approved legally to carry digital auto insurance cards, on smartphones and other devices – so what implications does this have on you?

Finance Minister Rod Phillips advised a one-year adoption period is planned during which insurance companies will have to issue a paper-copy of the insurance slips, in addition to the electronic slips if it is requested. Although insurance companies are responsible for safeguarding the insurance slips they issue, against alteration and to protect policyholders’ privacy, drivers are ultimately responsible for making sure their phone can display the electronic proof of insurance card. Poor signal, drained battery or damaged screen won’t be acceptable excuses so download your slips to your device. Keep a car/portable charger and use a screen protector if you choose to carry the electronic slips.

Although similar digital options already exist in Alberta, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, privacy watchdogs and experts had a lot to say on electronic slips as well: 

Ann Cavoukian, executive director of the Global Privacy and Security by Design Centre said, “Handing your unlocked phone to a police officer raises a number of issues. Your phone is not just a phone these days. It contains a massive amount of personal information that you may not want to share with others.” 

Branda McPhail, director of the privacy, technology and surveillance project at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association was also quoted saying, “We have to be careful that this isn’t yet another occasion where we’re being asked to hand over our privacy for the sake of supposed convenience. At a minimum, this should be optional. These days the intimate history of our lives is contained on our phones. It’s details about where we are, and when we’re there and what we do. It’s details about who we know and what we’ve said to them. It’s photos of public events and potentially intimate moments. Essentially, the minutiae of our day to day lives are contained on that little device. And it’s private, and it’s personal – and our courts have recognized that we have heightened expectations of privacy and cellphones precisely because of the quantity and quality of the information they contain.”

According to a bulletin from the new Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario, electronic insurance cards must have the ability to be viewed while a phone is using its lock screen capability. As per the bulletin: “That is, the card must be capable of being ‘locked,’ either by design or by the policyholder activating the function and changing settings on their electronic mobile device if required. Lock screen capability is an important privacy protection feature that is necessary to ensure policyholders can reduce the risk of privacy intrusions when other persons are viewing their insurance card.” 

In this scenario, if you hand over your phone you’d still essentially be giving police a digital version of your wallet – if you’ve fully integrated the Apple or Android wallet feature with other cards. Think of it this way: If they asked for your Driver’s License and Proof of insurance, would you physically hand your entire wallet over to the police or only show them your driver’s license card and insurance slip?

Andrew Clement, professor emeritus with the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto advises, “Police should be trained to make clear individuals their right to retain control.” Also noting that insurance credentials should be easily readable on a phone while still in its owner’s hand. This means, at the end of the day you should be able to keep your phone out of an officer’s hands if you’re concerned about your privacy and you choose to use electronic slips. 

Source: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/digital-insurance-privacy-1.5276692

Need Help With Your Digital Auto Insurance Card?

The in’s and out’s of auto insurance can be confusing and complicated. Foxquilt is more than your typical insurance broker; we have you covered and we actually care. That’s why we’re more than happy to help you through your coverage and what you should know about carrying your digital auto insurance card. With auto insurance rates increasing in Ontario, it’s also more important than ever to shop around for the most affordable quote; we can help. 

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