Trade bodies welcome the moves towards issuing online motor insurance certificates, but critics have also aired their views

The idea of issuing motor insurance certificates online has been welcomed by trade associations, but there have been some critics.

Some insurers argue that 50% of people already buy their car insurance online and electronic certificates would be a natural extension of this.

According to Biba, electronic delivery would have a positive impact on consumers, significantly reducing delivery times and creating better adherence to FSA contract certainty requirements.

But Med Hughes, head of road policing at the Association of Chief Police Officers, believes that online certificates are a bad idea that would only bring short-term benefits to the insurance industry.

Speaking at the 2007 Biba conference, he argued that insurers would lose control of who had paid for their service if drivers were allowed to print off their own documents.

The comments have come in response to proposals put forward by the Department for Transport.

On March 26, the government body announced its plans to enable motor insurance certificates to be issued electronically. The current law requires these certificates to be sent by insurers to policyholders by post.

Biba welcomed the moves: It said emailing out insurance certificates would save brokers £11m and have a positive impact on the environment by significantly reducing the need for packaging materials.

Justin Jacobs, the ABI's head of motor insurance, said the new rules would help customers and insurers arrange motor insurance quicker and more conveniently.

Some in the industry have said that online certificates could also lead to improved accuracy in the Motor Insurance Database (MID).

The MID—a real-time statutory record giving proof of insurance—has developed into a powerful tool with police using it regularly to check for uninsured drivers.

Like the police, the insurance industry is keen to keep uninsured drivers off the roads since accidents involving them cost the industry up to £500m a year, according to the ABI.