Has your agency implemented electronic signature or Esignature?

Independent insurance agencies, in particular, have been reluctant to Esignature, despite its ability to increase agency efficiency and improve the insurance consumer experience.

In this interview with Jim Armitage, Chairman of the Agents Council on Technology, we discuss how electronic signature, Esignature, impacts the insurance consumer experience

Jim explains what Esignature is, what role Esignature plays in the insurance agency and why he believes so few agents adopted this seemingly no-brainer technology.

Get the full video interview below:

Download the Transcript

Transcript:

Ryan: Hello everyone, Ryan Hanley here from Agency Nation and I have a special guest. We’re at the Winter Meetings in Palm Springs, the Westin Mission Hills, in this beautiful place, beautiful occasion, beautiful weather. I have Jim Armitage with me, the chairman of ACT, and I wanted to have him touch on one of my hot button issues, Esignature, and I felt that this was the perfect opportunity to do that.

Jim, welcome. Thanks for coming on.

Jim: No, thank you.

Ryan: Thanks for taking a few minutes with us. Let’s get right into it, what is Esignature? You know, let me ask this question. Why aren’t more agents adopting Esignature?

Jim: Probably because they don’t understand it and there’s just a lot of vendors out there, it’s almost like the premium financing. You have a lot of people that are out there bombarding you with information. Also, carriers are hesitant to accept all vendors. So from an ACT standpoint, what we’re trying to do is get the vendors to come to a standard so that once you meet that standard, then all of our companies should accept it. So if I have a particular vendor that I want to use or I’ve been using, it’ll plug right into all of my companies. So it’s kind of a consolidating of our ability to have Esignature. It’s incredibly important because consumers or customers are really expecting that. They don’t want the paper anymore. They don’t want an email with a whole bunch of stuff that they have to print, then scan and send it back. They want to be able to do, just like our competitors in a way, the mortgage industry, credit industry, I mean, some of even our carriers, require that we sign stuff via Esignature. So as a consumer, I expect that. I want that. You’re crazy as an agent and broker to not offer that ease of doing business, that value-added service, to your customers. It’s a no-brainer.

Ryan: Yeah. I know, for me, as moving away from being an agent and not selling insurance anymore, and actually having to buy my own commercial insurance policy, I said to my family agency,  “Can you just send me over the documents?” And I had forgotten, in the two months that I had been away from the agency that I just couldn’t sign something like I did with my bank statement and it immediately hit me, the impact of how much it reduces the customer experience to not be able to just do that Esignature and send it back.

Jim: Right. And quite frankly, it’s a better proof because there’s such a paper trail, so to speak, but there’s an electronic trail that I think is better than somebody having their wife open the mail and sign the guy’s name and send it back. It’s there. You identify yourself, you authenticate yourself. Boom! You know when it was signed, you know what IP address. I mean, it’s really foolproof. It’s probably better than the old way of doing stuff.

Ryan: Yeah. I know that for some carriers, in particular, some of the larger carriers have even said that they’re now considering an Esignature document to be more secure than a wet signature because it’s just . . . and every agent is probably rolling their eyes at this point, but we all at some point have done the, “I know this guy well enough. I’m just going to scribble his . . .

Jim: Yeah.

Ryan: . . . name on here and . . .

Jim: Sure.

Ryan: . . . and push the document.” Right? I mean, we really don’t like to admit that and the carriers are aware that these things happen.

Jim: Sure.

Ryan: So is it the change in process in the agency, do you think that’s holding up? Because I know that it does . . . Even though it seems like a no-brainer, it does kind of change the workflow. So is that making some sense?

Jim: Yeah, absolutely. I’m sure it has a lot to do with it. And the thing is, you’ve got different vendors and you’ve got a lot of different philosophies. You start this process from the carrier site, but really, the bulk of the folks that we’ve interviewed and talked to have really said that it needs to start in the agent’s office. Because a lot of agents want to add disclosures, they want to add value-added information in that process. So start in the agent’s office, be able to then send if off to the carrier, and one and done. But yeah, we all have, I think, a job ahead of us of educating agents or brokers. Again, we need to do this kind of accreditation with the vendors, so that all the carriers will accept whoever has met the standards that we set out and I think that’s where we’re headed.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: And hopefully we could do that. It’ll make it a lot easier because, yeah, you can have an agent that would need to use three different Esignature vendors and that’s just not fair.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: That gets back to what you were talking about, the workflow . . .

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: . . . within the agency. It just makes it very difficult. So we need to make it seamless, we need to make it really electronic, we need to be able to store it on the agent’s side, be able to then communicate it and store it on the company’s side, and we’re getting there because consumers demand it.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: And our competition, the way they’re set up, are able to provide that service and not all of us are.

Ryan: Yeah. So if an agency is considering Esignature, a good place to start that search, at least to better understand some of the accreditations and some of the things, a good place to start that search would be ACT. So tell us where . . .

Jim: Yes.

Ryan: . . . we can find that information.

Jim: We have a fabulous website. We have a lot of information on that. We’ll be communicating via newsletter that’ll give you access and hyperlinks to more information. Also, start with your largest carrier.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: And see what they’re using and get started, get your feet wet. You’ll not only be able to use what they have already authenticated or have accredited, but then you could use it for other things.

Ryan: Yeah. Jim, I appreciate your time. This has been . . .

Jim: No, it’s my pleasure.

Ryan: . . . great. It’s great to see you.

Jim: Yeah, good to see you too.

Ryan: And thank you for everyone for tuning in.


 Conclusion

There is definitely a learning curve to Esignature. Some agencies will have to make significant process changes in order to make effective use of Esignature. Yet, based on the this conversation with Jim Armitage, its reasonable to consider Esignature a necessary tool for capturing the modern insurance consumer.

Do you believe Esignature is necessary to service the modern insurance  consumers? What has been your experience with Esignature?

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