Wet signatures on protection applications could be a thing of the past after the ABI entered into discussions with the Government.
The trade body is in talks with the Department of Health (DoH) over scrapping the legal requirement for a wet signature ( made on paper rather than a faxed or e-mail copy) when a GP's report (GPR) is obtained.
But ABI assistant director Nick Kirwan says he does not see why any move could not be extended to all stages of the application process.
According to the ABI, a 'durable medium', such as a recorded conversation or digital signature, would be "more robust".
All insurers require a wet signature for paper applications, while most do when applications are made electronically. Advisers describe a signature-less process as "risky".
The Access to Medical Records Act (AMRA) currently makes it a legal requirement for insurers to obtain a wet signature from the customer when they need a GPR.
But ABI assistant director, health and protection, Nick Kirwan, says it "stands in the way of progress".
"Wet signatures may not be the most robust method," he says. "I mean, does your Dr have a specimen of your signature to hand? If not, what is he comparing it against? Why wouldn't some other durable medium be ok these days?"
Earlier this month, income protection provider Pioneer introduced signature-less applications across its entire product range.
"Not only does our new process speed up applications, but it also increases the chances of IP business going on the books," Pioneer sales and marketing director Richard Wyatt-Haines says.
"Yes, there is an increased risk of non-disclosure, but there is an even greater and potentially more damaging risk of families living without the undoubted benefits of IP."
But advisers say they do not want to live with the risk of signature-free applications.
"Conceptually, they are a great idea but in practice it is a different matter," Roy McLoughlin, an IFA with London-based Master Adviser says.
"It is too risky for us. How many people do you know call themselves non-smokers and then light up in front of you if they are having a drink? I'm telling you now: to an insurer, that person is a smoker."IFAonline
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