GOING MOBILE: Hunter Insurance President Brian Hunter, white shirt, speaks with customer and CertaPro Painters owner Mark Bulpitt. Hunter is hoping that Rhode Island allows policyholders to access auto-insurance information through mobile devices.
PBN PHOTO/TRACY JENKINS
By Patricia Daddona PBN Staff Writer
Hunter Insurance President Brian Hunter stays on top of issues in his field, and one that the Cumberland-based agent has paid attention to lately is the ability of drivers in some states to access their car-insurance ID card digitally.
“I’m aware of what’s going on in other states and it would be nice if they allowed it in Rhode Island,” he said.
Getting stopped by a police officer and having forgotten to put a current identification card in the glove compartment can send motorists to court for what Hunter and the Chicago-based Property Casualty Insurers Association of America say ends up wasting everybody’s time unnecessarily.
That could all change by next year, as the association, which wrote the first statutory change for Idaho early in 2012, and has supported the changes in 27 other states, works with Rhode Island state agencies and state Rep. Brian P. Kennedy, D-Hopkinton, to make possible regulatory or statutory adjustments in the Ocean State.
Here, as in other states, the capability would be optional, not mandatory, Kennedy said.
“It’s similar to boarding an airplane with a digital boarding pass,” Kennedy said. “You can do everything imaginable digitally on a smartphone. There are apps for everything. With so many states going this way, it’s one of those issues we should at least be talking about.”
Alex Hageli, director of personal-lines policy for the association, was the author of the Idaho law.
“The fact it passes unanimously should tell you all you need to know,” Hageli said. “I’ve never seen an issue spread this fast.”
In June, association Vice President Frank O’Brien met with Anthony Silva, administrator at R.I. Department of Motor Vehicles, advocating for an administrative change, which is, technically, all that is needed. O’Brien told Providence Business News, however, that he’d be happy also to work with Kennedy, who is chairman of the House Insurance Committee, if Kennedy follows through with plans to draft legislative changes for the January 2014 session.