Michigan drivers are legally required to maintain no-fault auto insurance on every vehicle used on the roads. When stopped by a police officer, drivers must produce proof of current coverage. Many larger auto insurers now have apps that allow you to store this data on your smartphone. But will Michigan troopers accept electronic proof of insurance?
Michigan auto insurance premiums are high compared to other states. Many factors contribute to the cost. However, one significant advantage is the unlimited medical coverage. If you are catastrophically injured in an auto accident, Michigan's No-Fault Act ensures that your medical needs are met for as long as you need it. PIP benefits also include up to 3 years of lost wages (at 85% of demonstrated earnings) and up to 3 years of replacement services (at $20 per day). In other states, your coverage is limited to a certain dollar amount. Since no one knows when they will be the victims of a drunk driver or a patch of black ice, even the safest drivers could find themselves needing to take advantage of these unlimited benefits.
Unfortunately, the high price tag often leads low-income drivers to allow their insurance to lapse. But driving without insurance is a big risk, exposing the motorist both criminally and in civil court. In addition to facing criminal charges for driving without insurance, an uninsured motorist is cut off from the Michigan No-Fault Act's PIP protections.
An uninsured driver is also typically deemed "at fault" for the accident because they violated state law by driving without mandatory auto insurance. This exposes them to civil liability if they caused another motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian severe injury. In cases with death, disfigurement, or a serious impairment of bodily function, the injured motorist can sue the uninsured driver for damages beyond those covered by PIP benefits. Without liability insurance, the driver could be personally responsible for thousands, and sometimes millions of dollars of damages for property damage, disability, pain and suffering, and other non-economic damages.
Choosing to skip the auto insurance could save money on monthly bills, but if there is a serious auto accident, the medical and legal costs could easily send a driver into bankruptcy.
For those drivers who do comply with the law and carry mandatory auto insurance, providing proof of insurance can sometimes complicate a routine traffic stop. Misplacing the proof of insurance, forgetting to change the paper, or changing it too soon before the appropriate coverage period begins, could result in a criminal citation that boils down to a piece of paper.
That's why, beginning in 2016, Michigan accepts electronic proof of insurance. The law allows residents and motorists to "display an electronic copy of his or her certificate of insurance upon request." The law prohibits the police officer from looking at other apps or information on the person's smartphone, although the officer may be permitted to take the phone to a safer location to verify the validity of the electronic proof of insurance.
There is another advantage to using an electronic proof of insurance. Recently, the Dearborn Police issued a notice on NextDoor, a neighborhood watch website that car thefts were resulting in the loss of personal information. Several local cars had been stolen as Dearborn residents left their vehicles unattended to warm up.
A proof of insurance contains your vehicle's VIN as well as your personal address. The vehicle registration also has your driver's license number. Since most drivers leave their registration and proof of insurance in a convenient spot in their vehicles, such as the glove compartment, auto theft can quickly turn to identity theft when thieves make use of everything they have. Even when a thief doesn't take the vehicle, he or she can quickly take the paper certificates of insurance, giving them access to more of your personal details.
The Dearborn police recommend using remote starters, which put the car in accessory mode, allowing it to warm up without leaving it unlocked and exposed to thieves. You can also reduce the risk of identity theft by carrying your registration with you, and switching to electronic proof of insurance. That way, even if a thief does take your car, your identity will remain secure.
Michigan now accepts electronic proof of insurance, allowing people to take advantage of the extensive No-Fault coverage without fear of a traffic citation. Don't take the risk of an uninsured accident. Keep your mandatory no-fault and liability insurance policies up to date, and save yourself money and hassle in case of an accident.
At Sachs Waldman, our experienced personal injury attorneys understand the laws related to Michigan no-fault insurance. If you have been injured by an uninsured motorist, we will review your case and help recover all of your PIP benefits and Third Party damages. Contact our Detroit personal injury law office at 1-800-638-6722.