How many different ways can there be of doing the same thing, and is the requirement of a signature really something that insurers should be competing on, or should there be some standardisation?
By our reckoning, there are currently nine different procedures regarding signatures for the online submission of protection business.
Many independent advisers are concerned about the risks of electronic submission, including the liability risk, and with so many different processes being adopted by different providers the concerns are growing.
However, as yet there are no agreed minimum standards or procedures and such vagueness does little to address potential non disclosure, either accidental or deliberate.
The nine in question are as follows:
- 1. Provider sends confirmation at application stage – however, no signature is required at any stage
- 2. Provider sends confirmation at application stage – they state that a signature is needed, but it isn’t really
- 3. Provider sends confirmation at application stage – signature required within 7 days
- 4. Provider sends confirmation at application stage – signature required within 30 days
- 5. Provider sends confirmation at application stage – signature required within 60 days
- 6. Provider sends confirmation at application stage – any signature accepted, even if it is not related to the application in question!
- 7. Application keyed online but provider requires original signed application form before underwriting can commence
- 8. Provider sends confirmation at on-risk stage – signature required within 90 days
- 9. Provider sends confirmation schedule when the proposal is submitted which needs to be returned within three months of the case going on risk.
There are a few other things we don’t quite understand when it comes to online submission too.
Firstly, some providers promote electronic submission; however, they won’t communicate by email.
Some providers promote electronic submission but don’t allow income protection, family income benefit or trusts to be keyed online.
Some providers trust intermediaries to key 30 pages of client information electronically, but won’t allow them to make any subsequent changes, no matter how minor, either over the phone or electronically.
So I thought I’d ask around our teams and find out what they like most, and dislike most, about the online submission process.
- Interactive questions tailored to the cover, age and disclosures
- Detailed online tracking
- Non-standard terms offered electronically
- Underwriting requirements confirmed electronically
- REAL straight-through-processing, not just submission then paper
We don’t like…
- Restrictive occupation search facilities
- Limited or no online tracking
- Restrictions by product, such as FIB and IP
- Poor navigation, including not being able to save screens for later amendment or being able to go backwards
- No free type or ‘additional info’ boxes
When it comes to signatures and online submission, we would welcome standardisation. The most efficient and customer-friendly way of protecting all parties against non-disclosure is to request a signature, but not to let this hold up either the underwriting process or the commencement of cover itself.
After all, the client wants to be insured, the insurer wants to start collecting premiums, and the intermediary would no doubt like to receive their commission sooner, rather than later.
Kevin Carr is head of protection strategy at LifeSearch.
The views expressed are those of the author and not those of the company he represents.IFAonline
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