The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has today published a set of principles on the use of e-Signatures, ensuring that applying for and buying insurance cover is as easy and simple for customers as possible.
Insurers increasingly use e-Signatures to request individuals' medical information for life and health insurance products, allowing customer consent to be sent instantly to the insurer.
The principles are as follows:
1. An e-Signature process should adhere to the following Principles.
1. Be legally compliant
2. Be compliant with ABI, BMA and GMC guidance and that of HSCIC and the ICO
3. Conform to ISO/ BSI Standards or equivalent
4. Not compromise GPs' professional indemnity
5. Be reviewed upon fundamental changes in legislation
6. The release of information remains entirely within the control of the GP practice
7. Ensure the consent provided is fully informed
8. Provide an audit trail of the consent process available to all parties
9. Incorporate controls to confirm the identity of the signer
10. Be at least as safe as the current system
The ABI said: "Insurers following these Principles will give confidence to GPs and consumers that using e-Signatures to gain customer consent is not only as safe and secure as the current paper-based system but speeds up insurers providing valuable life insurance cover and annuities for customers."
The ABI has worked together with the Joint General Practitioner Information Technology Committee of the British Medical Association (BMA) and Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
They have also worked with the General Medical Council (GMC), in developing these Principles.
They have set an industry standard which is intended to allow new providers and users of e-Signatures to innovate, while maintaining safeguards for patients and GPs.
The ABI said that the main benefits of using e-Signatures were safety, ease and speed.
Charlie Campbell, policy adviser for protection and health at the ABI, said:"These Principles set an industry standard, giving doctors and customers confidence that using e-Signatures is safe and secure, and will speed up the underwriting process for the benefit of customers."
Guy Williams, director at Liss Systems said:"Today's ABI announcement that the BMA has agreed to the use of electronic signatures for obtaining medical consent is a key milestone.
"It removes any uncertainty, from the ABI, the BMA and the EU Directive about the adoption of a paper free AMRA (access to medical records authority) process.
"We believe the use of e-signatures with the 20 - 30% of people whose medical records need to be accessed means the underwriting journey for protection products will be reduced by around two weeks, and will minimise drop outs. The adoption of automated e-signatures by insurers could also see immediate and meaningful cost reductions.
"Over the last 12 months we have been working closely with industry bodies, insurers and our global e-signature partner DocuSign to bring this technology to the UK protection market, through Liss AMRAdigital."
Peter Hamilton, head of retail propositions at Zurich said: "This is a really positive step forward. There has been collaborative engagement with the BMA and the RCGP through the ABI and the broader industry - this will mean better outcomes for all involved - the medical profession, advisers, insurers, and most importantly, customers."
Debbie Kennedy, head of proposition at Royal London said:"We are pleased that this work has been done to set in place best practice. We will be using this to ensure we set up a robust and safe process for our customers."