Are Paper Pink Slips Outdated?

A recent Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) survey found that 74 percent of Ontarians would prefer to have electronic proof of insurance instead of "pink slips". The slip represents a frustrating process that's outdated and inconvenient. A pink slip is a pink piece of paper that serves as proof of auto insurance that drivers need to carry with them while behind the wheel. You also need to show it if you are registering a new vehicle or transferring one into your name.

The IBC's Museum of Outdated Technology (MOOT) Video

The IBC launched a humorous video campaign poking fun at antiquated pink slips. The video, "IBC's Museum of Outdated Technology" shows a woman who goes to the MOOT exhibit. She sees outdated items like an old cellphone from the '80s. She sees a typewriter. She also sees a pink slip and other paper documents that Canadians still carry as proof of insurance.

While the video pokes fun at pink slips, it's no laughing matter for drivers who pay for store items with their smartphones and shop for groceries online. But, paper proof of insurance isn't advancing with other tech advances. The IBC campaign stresses that the laws regarding proof of insurance in Ontario need to be modernized to accommodate both physical and online documents. This would allow consumers to have a choice if they want to carry paper documents or use digital proof of insurance.

Why Pink Slips are Outdated

If you buy an airline ticket, you can purchase it online or with your phone. You can even check-in online or use your phone to show an electronic e-ticket. While travel has made technological advances in the Internet Age, the same can't be said for insurance proof.

Technological and smartphone advances simplify how Canadians can purchase insurance. They are a variety of ways a driver can contact their insurer to set up coverage. They can even compare car insurance rates to find the most affordable premiums. But, then they step into the "Dark Ages" when it comes to receiving proof of insurance.

How Pink Slips are Obtained


Pink slips are the small, rectangular, paper slip, also called a liability card, that is issued by your insurance company. The liability card is proof that you have the required insurance coverages needed to legally drive on roads in Ontario.

Proof of Insurance and Other Physical Documents

Aside from the pink slip which is insurance proof and required to register a new vehicle, there are other paper documents. Drivers need a green slip which is proof of ownership too. Vehicle owners also need to pay for licence plates and have validation stickers. These are all required so they can drive in Ontario.

If the pink slip is lost, stolen or damaged, it has to be replaced. And, if a driver changes insurance, they have to obtain a new pink slip with the updated changes. Pink slips must always have current insurance information as outlined by the consumer's Bill of Rights for vehicle insurance in Ontario.

Concerns About Paper and Electronic Insurance Documents

A concern with physical paper documents as proof of insurance and vehicle ownership is theft. Thieves can break into vehicles and steal insurance information from the glove compartment. They can then try to use these documents to ship stolen vehicles out of Canada.

Another concern is electronic document vulnerability. And, the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) is researching liability and privacy concerns.

ePAI Privacy and Liability Concerns

"As the regulator, it is important that FSCO balance moving quickly enough to support innovation with taking the time needed to ensure consumer interests are protected." That's from a FSCO email which was sent to Canadian Underwriter when asked about the timing of electronic proof of auto insurance (ePAI).

Liability and privacy concerns over ePAI include:

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  • How to use an electronic card if a driver travels outside of the Ontario area
  • How to lock insurance data on phones to protect drivers and how to handle low batteries, poor signals or malfunctioning phones
  • How the transfers of ePAI will occur, who will have permission and access to the data and if their device will be equally secure
  • How police can access data on a driver's electronic device (phone, tablet)
  • How police will obtain insurance data, if they will handle phones and what liability it poses if phones are damaged in an inspection
  • How to make ePAI available for every class and type of vehicle

Who Uses Electronic Proof of Insurance

ePAI is already used in some provinces. Nova Scotia got their approval in January of 2018. Newfoundland and Labrador announced their approval on July 29, 2019, and drivers there can start showing eSlips if they are pulled over by local law enforcement. Drivers can show proof of insurance on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices or through emails and apps.

Electronic insurance proof is also used by some businesses. Through an eDelivery system, the Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO) finds that this is a seamless way to send a digital proof of insurance and vehicle ownership as it uses eSlips. Referred to as My Proof of Insurance, consumers and commercial businesses can use it for proof of home, business and auto insurance.

Electronic data can be stored on a computer or mobile device and it's securely protected with bank-grade encryption features. A business or consumer only needs to give their insurer a valid email address to receive My Proof of Insurance eSlips. They receive them electronically through email and can download the online insurance proof of coverage card as a PDF. They can then display the card data in their digital wallet if they're ever pulled over and asked to show proof of insurance.

An interesting feature called "Share Pass" lets the business or consumer send proof of insurance to another party or to a different device. With policy information at their fingertips, consumers and businesses have fast access to vehicle documentation.

The IBC Campaign is asking people to vote through social media channels if they're ready to switch to digital insurance cards. They can use the hashtag, #MOOTInsurance if they agree that digital proof of insurance should be an option.

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