Idaho recently became the first state in the U.S. to allow drivers to present proof of insurance using their handheld electronic device, like a smartphone.

This is the first in what many believe will become a huge exodus away from paper ‘proofs’ to digital ‘proofs.’ And it make sense.

Smartphones and other electronic handheld devices are ubiquitous. And just about every company already provides electronic access to features, accounts, profile and other information. It just a small step for these companies to create and offer free apps which provide the legal documentation required.

Last week Idaho Governor Butch Otter signed SB 1319 which allows Idaho drivers to either show proof of coverage with a smartphone App or even just a PDF copy saved on their phone. For those without such devices the traditional hard copy proof of insurance card will still be accepted.

The new Idaho bill passed the Senate unanimously, and passed the house with only one “nay” vote. This is due not just to the fact the new legislation is expected to save money, both for insurance providers and the insured, but also to make it easier for drivers to prove they are insured in the event of a traffic stop or vehicle crash.

Idaho may have been the first state to allow digital proof of insurance, but other states already have pending legislation that will do much the same thing. Alabama will soon publish regulation which allows motorists to electronically display electronic proof of insurance at registration and during traffic stops starting next year. The Arizona Legislature has approved legislation which allows motorists to display proof of insurance electronically and is currently awaiting final approval from the governor and in California, legislation allowing insurers to provide proof of insurance to a mobile electronic device is currently working its way through the House.