E-Signature 101: Resources for Agents and Brokers

If you’re not already offering prospects and customers e-signature functionality, you will need to very soon—because if you don’t, someone else will.

Agents and brokers that use e-signatures say it helps them sell more, communicate faster, satisfy efficiency-conscious customers, eliminate unneeded follow-ups, ensure documents are in good order and reduce E&O problems. That’s quite a laundry list, so why are you missing out?

E-signature solutions come in a variety of forms, ranging from face-to-face stylus or finger-signing on tablets to click-to-sign functionality, in which an agent sends a link and instructions to a customer or prospect who then signs and returns the document.

A number of resources are available to help agents and brokers understand what e-signatures offer. ACORD offers a summary of some of the legal issues surrounding e-signatures. ACT prepared an overview article and recently created papers addressing carrier- and vendor-related concerns, which supply links to a number of providers. And a recent Agencies Online video offers insight from Steve Anderson. All these resources contain useful information that can help as you move forward through e-signature implementation and usage.

When comparing the various e-signature solutions for deployment at your own agency or brokerage, here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Does it offer you options to authenticate online customers, such as email, secret questions and answers or SMS text code?
  • Is it flexible enough to support how you do business and not require employees to implement undesirable workflow or process changes?
  • Will the solution let you promote your own brand?
  • Does it protect you with electronic proof of everything the customer sees, signs and agrees to online?
  • Will it support agency-specific forms and marketing materials?
  • Can you choose a method of signing that suits your situation and addresses both in-person and remote signing?
  • Does it support any Web-enabled mobile device?
  • Is it recommended by actual users, such as those in your agent association or management system user group, or individuals who comment on product review sites like g2crowd.com?

Don’t forget to explore your options for available e-signature integrations with your agency management system, and check out ACT’s tips for encouraging your carrier partners to join the e-signature initiative. If you’re a Big “I” member, it’s also a good idea to learn about how the association’s DocuSign partnership might benefit your agency.

One final piece of advice: It may sound obvious, but once you’ve vetted and selected an e-signature solution in your agency, test it internally before you launch it with customers and prospects.

Ron Berg is executive director of the Big “I” Agents Council for Technology (ACT). This article is adapted from the ACT article “E-Signature Agent and Broker Resources.”