Getting Documents Signed Remotely: eSignatures

Over the last few decades, everything in our life has been moving onto a digital platform, from navigation and communication to banking and investing. Life Insurance has been fairly resistant to these trends. Necessity, however, is the mother of all invention.

With the Covid-19 outbreak, we’ve all had to adapt to a new mode of operation. Face-to-face meetings are no longer an option, and so our industry has had to evolve quickly. A key part of this is our ability to conduct non-face-to-face/virtual meetings and applications. The use of technological solutions like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have been invaluable in this regard. Another key element of being successful in this new environment is being able to do all the required paperwork remotely, and often without printers and scanners. So how do you get all of those documents signed?

The answer is eSignatures.

What is an eSignature

An eSignature uses specialized software to allow you or a client to create a signature to place on whatever documents you might need. This lets your clients finish an application, sign a will, and whatever else they require with the click of a button and send it straight back to you.

Are they safe and secure?

A common concern is “how do you know that it was really my client who signed?” and “is it legally binding?” In terms of it being legally binding, generally yes, eSignatures are considered binding. However, in regulated and sensitive industries, not all eSignatures are accepted. This is because some eSignatures focus on speed and simplicity but lack important security measures to ensure the authenticity of the signature.

To ensure authenticity, a common framework was developed for validating eSignatures called Digital Signatures. Digital Signature software actually imprints a document with a lot more than just an image that looks like your client’s signature. Digital Signatures actually encode a document with a kind of digital fingerprint called a hash. What’s more, any changes to a document after it has been signed actually disrupts this hash, thus the signature is invalidated by any changes.

As a result, signatures from Digital Signature software are extremely secure and trustworthy and are still very simple for you and your client to use.

Do carriers accept eSignatures?

This has changed swiftly and now almost all carriers accept eSignatures; however they tend to require the client to sign using a specific software and sometimes even their own proprietary software. This isn’t an issue for a career agent, but as an independent advisor, you’ll need to understand what various carriers will accept.

What service should I use?

Thankfully, there are a handful of well-respected options that almost all carriers accept. Two of the biggest players in the game are DocuSign and AdobeSign. Neither option is free, but they offer free trials so you can see whether you think they’re worth your money or not. Both of these are accepted by the majority of carriers, and they are both considered Digital Signatures and are thus very secure. There are many options out there so feel free to explore but be sure they are accepted by checking with your carriers of choice or you can also check the Non Face-to-Face reference page (login required) of the Covid-19 Insurer Updates on the PPI website.

Once you get setup with a Digital Signature software, you’ll be amazed at how simple and helpful they are.

For more information on working remotely using online platforms, read this Advisor Talk article: Taking Back the Remote Control

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