Shuman Roy is an entrepreneur, business owner, and musician. He started RoysNoys, LLC in 2013 as a music production and education service company. He also offers small business consulting and advisory services to help businesses get from start-up mode to turn-key operations. Shuman earned his M.B.A from the Stern School of Business in 2001 and has an undergraduate degree from Manhattan College in ...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Joel...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 13, 2021

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The times they are a changing. It seems like everything is done electronically nowadays, and insurance, in certain states, is no different. Whether you’re talking about government agencies or a private insurance company, things are going digital.

Case in point? Georgia.

A relatively new electronic database in the Peach State is used to confirm whether or not you’re “legal” when it comes to your auto insurance coverage. Gone are the days when people could get by buying a policy only to cancel it as soon as they have the card or other proof of insurance. Now if you do that, your insurance cards won’t mean anything. If you’re pulled over with bad insurance cards, police could still ask you for further proof of insurance status. If you can pull up your card on your insurance app during the 30 days they have to report new insurance, you could be in the clear. If not, you could find yourself in trouble.

As with nearly every state, Georgia requires drivers to carry at least the state minimum car insurance coverage. Even if you have a few tickets, this type of insurance quote and coverage is generally low. Just keep in mind, state minimums are only meant to cover your liability. If you want coverage for your car or your medical expenses, you’ll need to invest in more comprehensive coverage.

How does GEICS work?

Auto insurance companies who issue policies in Georgia are now required to electronically transmit policy information to the Georgia Electronic Insurance Compliance System (GEICS) within 30 days of a policy effective date.

Specifically, it connects your insurance data to a vehicle’s VIN number with the policy effective date.

GEICS then confirms the information they receive by cross referencing the information from the insurer with what they have in their database.

The kicker here is that insurers are also responsible for sending notification if a particular policy cancels for any reason. This essentially rules out the invalid “paper” auto liability ID card.

If your coverage cancels, the state and law enforcement will know immediately. Put simply, you’ll be much less likely to “get away with” driving uninsured. And you may have to pay a fine for any lapse.

Whenever a cop pulls you over, they’d run your data through a program on their computer. This program pulls up any alerts as well as the registered owner’s information and now data from GEICS.

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Why did Georgia change its system?

The idea is to encourage vehicle owners to purchase and maintain liability insurance coverage on their vehicles, reduce the number of uninsured drivers on Georgia roadways, and to help law enforcement verify whether or not a particular vehicle is insured more easily.

It is believed that an electronic system will help provide more accurate and up-to-date information on insurance coverage.

As mentioned, the “old” paper ID cards may or may not be valid at any given time.

For example, you may purchase an auto insurance policy, and then allow your coverage to lapse, but still hang on to the ID card that proves you’re covered.

How would a police officer, a judge, or the Department of Motor Vehicles know that your coverage lapsed? They wouldn’t, and that’s the idea here. They may miss an active insurance plan if it hasn’t been 30 days yet, but they won’t miss a cancelled plan even if you just did it yesterday.

When do I need to show proof of liability coverage?

There are a few key times when you need to provide evidence of insurance coverage:

1. When you are questioned by law enforcement (think when you get pulled over for a speeding ticket).
2. When you register your vehicle (or renew a registration).
3. When you replace or transfer existing license plates (also known as “tags”).

In years past, you could simply provide your auto liability ID card and be on your way. Not the case in Georgia anymore folks.

In summary, you can expect this sort of technology to expand quickly to other states as they work to ensure that more drivers are covered while on their roadways.

This means there’s an even greater chance you’ll get busted if you try to operate a vehicle without insurance.

If you’re currently driving without insurance, gather insurance quotes online and/or seek out an independent insurance agent who can get you the coverage you need at the right price.

Tip: 10 ways to lower your car insurance costs.

(photo: USDA)