e-Signatures: Insurance Documents in the Digital Era

The use of e-signatures has been a point of contention in the insurance industry for some time now. With the operational changes brought on by COVID-19, specifically, the need for non-face to face and remote sales processes, the adoption of e-signatures is more critical now than ever.

According to the Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO), processing a paper-based insurance application takes an average of 45 days, compared to a digitally-enabled application, which takes closer to 10 minutes. Additionally, storing, managing and referencing paper documents is much more labour intensive for both advisors and clients.

However, compliance standards surrounding some insurance lines, such as Life and Health, mandate the use of wet (pen and paper) signatures. With physical distancing requirements in place, this makes the process notably difficult for advisors and policyholders. How are clients expected to print, sign and send contracts to their advisor if they don’t have access to a printer? In some cases, clients have been picking up contracts from their advisors’ homes, sliding paperwork under their front door to avoid physical contact. Along with many other unfortunate realities, the pandemic has also caused disruptions to print and postal services, making the process of sending and receiving documents even longer. This is a substandard customer experience to say the least, and does not meet the expectations of clients today.

After receiving this feedback from our audience, we decided to host a webinar in partnership with DocuSign to answer questions from our advisors. Specifically, we wanted to help advisors identify which carriers accept e-signatures, and demonstrate how advisors can incorporate tools like DocuSign to streamline their day-to-day workflow.

Here is a quick overview of what was covered in the webinar:

Benefits of using e-signature tools like DocuSign:

DocuSign provides a number of benefits to advisors, including the ability to:

  • Save time preparing, signing and managing documents
  • Improve the customer experience
  • Meet compliance needs with an audit trail

On average, DocuSign saves businesses $36 per document — a significant cost saving. As an advisor, think about how many documents you send per day or per week. If you could eliminate the manual steps involved in preparing, actioning, sending and storing documents, you would save a significant amount of time, which translates into tangible cost savings.

By enabling the use of e-signatures, businesses are able to increase efficiency by 25x. That time can be reallocated into a number of other areas, including growing your customer base through marketing, business development and sales activities.

On average, organizations that use DocuSign see a 30% improvement in customer experience, determined by net promoter scores.

Lastly, DocuSign can actually support compliance needs by helping advisors achieve 100% visibility and maintain comprehensive audit trails.

Standard insurance documents that can be digitized:

Common documents that advisors can digitize to service their clients more efficiently are:

  • Advisor Disclosure
  • Privacy Agreement
  • Engagement Letter
  • Life Insurance Replacement Form
  • Policy Applications: some carriers accept DocuSign for the application itself, but may require wet signatures for additional forms

Compliance concerns — identity verification:

One of the main concerns carriers have with implementing e-signatures is mitigating risk associated with fraud. From a compliance standpoint, insurers need proof of identity, document authentication and confirmation that the signature was delivered by the policyholder it was intended for.

The carriers that already leverage e-signatures use different methods for authenticating identities. For example, some may link the e-signature to the policyholder’s e-mail address. This automatically captures the signing location from the IP address of the device, as well as proves that the intended client is in fact the person signing the document. Another common approach is to place documents behind a password-protected link that is unique for each client.

During COVID-19, carriers introduced non-face to face sales processes for many of their products and requested that advisors verify their client’s identity through virtual (video-enabled) meetings.

There are a number of creative ways carriers can address the compliance concerns associated with e-signatures, and the ones that do will have a compelling advantage over their competitors.

Which Canadian carriers accept DocuSign?

It’s widely known that the degree in which e-signatures are accepted varies from carrier to carrier. Certain carriers have technology embedded into their e-apps to facilitate digital signatures, others use third party services such as OneSpan, Adobe or DocuSign. Some carriers have e-signatures available on some products, but not others, and are constantly changing their processes. In summary, it’s best to continue checking with individual carriers to make sure you are up-to-date on any process changes.

As per the latest updates we received, the following carriers accept e-signatures on their applications through the use of DocuSign:

  • Assumption — enabled for their Golden Protection Plan product
  • CPP
  • Empire — incorporated into the Fast and Full app
  • La Capital — enabled for investments and disability income only
  • iA — enabled for their Access Life product shelf
  • RBC
  • SSQ

Demo: Digitizing the Advisor Disclosure Agreement

During the webinar, the DocuSign team demonstrated how to digitize an advisor disclosure agreement in a few easy steps. Contact us to access a copy of the recording, where we cover the following steps:

  • Save time by pre-filling and automating email templates
  • Generate a certificate of completion to support identity authentication and audit trail requirements
  • Digitally store and access documents to improve the user experience
  • Package multiple documents into an “envelope” for your clients
  • Upload directly from your computer, Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, etc.
  • Use DocuSign’s web app without downloading any additional software
  • Assign roles, so advisor and client(s) can use the same document to sign
  • Compare the web and mobile view/experience
  • Share documents, folders or templates across your agency or organization
  • Compare in-person and remote e-signature experiences

If you’d like to learn more about how to incorporate DocuSign or other technology into your advisory business, contact our team! We’d be happy to chat.