Insurers Sign The (Un)Dotted Line
Robert Regis Hyle | May 27, 2014
The recent announcement of a strategic partnership between Vertafore and DocuSign was welcome news to CoVerica, a Dallas insurance agency. CoVerica has used Vertafore’s agency management system since 1995 so the independent agency’s director of IT, Leif Hurst, was familiar with the company’s offerings.
The second piece of the puzzle came in a more random fashion. Hurst was introduced to DocuSign through a real-estate transaction. “I bought a house using DocuSign,” he says.
Hurst explains that he likes to study the way people work and while going through expense reports he noticed that producers would leave the office for up to three hours to get something signed and then turn in an expense report. He also noticed that documents also would be sent through the mail and producers would check the mail each day waiting for the document to be returned.
After signing electronic documents to purchase the house, Hurst wondered why it was so difficult to do the same thing with an insurance policy.
“There were hiccups in the beginning,” he says. “We were struggling with our carriers to get them to recognize it as a valid signature. DocuSign put a team together to work with the carriers and put them at ease. In our book a digital signature is just as viable as a wet signature. Once they jumped onboard we went running with it.”
CoVerica deals with dozens of carriers and uses DocuSign on both sides of the business—personal and commercial lines. The personal lines side is more frequent because of the number of transactions, and CoVerica sends out 30 to 50 DocuSign envelopes a day to be “signed” by customers.
“We use it is for any new business, but also on reductions in coverage—take a vehicle off, reduce limits, anything that goes back to the policy—even our own internal sign-offs,” he says. “In the three or four years we’ve used DocuSign we’ve had one customer who was unable to use it—an elderly gentleman with a dial-up modem.”
Hurst reports that CoVerica’s customers love the system and producers are able to close deals in minutes, not days.
“We track how long it takes to close,” says Hurst. “If someone calls and asks for insurance and we give them a quote we can complete the process in 20 to 25 minutes, where it used to take two or three days,”
Having DocuSign running behind the scenes on Vertafore’s agency management system makes it easier for users at CoVerica, explains Hurst, because they don’t have to leave the Vertafore management system.
“The employee still has to fill it out and attach it to the management system, but this removes three to five steps from the workflow,” he says. “From an E&O standpoint, I don’t have to check to see if the agent did the work. The audit takes care of itself because it ends up back in the management system.”
CoVerica is pushing the DocuSign system on all fronts, according to Hurst.
“We are getting inquiries from customers on how to become a DocuSign user because the process is that great,” he says. “Also, we don’t have to manage the document once it is signed because DocuSign takes care of that for us. Our business customers love doing business with it.”
CoVerica had some internal procedures where producers weren’t pushing to get certain documents signed even though the agency required a sign-off on the proposal.
“DocuSign makes it much easier” to get those proposals signed, says Hurst.
Decision makers for a company are signing documents while they are on vacation via an iPad or an iPhone.
“When your business can project that you are that technologically proficient and you are a big adopter of technology, it’s a competitive differentiator for us,” says Hurst. “A lot of agencies say they are different, but what we are doing proves it.”
It is a competitive atmosphere in the agency world, both for the commercial lines and the personal lines, so anything an agency can do to improve efficiency, be quicker, savvier, and more responsive to customers allows agents to close accounts faster, points out Hurst.
“We have personal lines producers closing six or seven accounts a day,” he says. “They can resolve the customer service aspect we have all adopted. If you can’t wrap things up quickly there are direct writers in their face 24/7.”
Direct writers are a combination of agent and carrier, points out Hurst, which allows them to adopt internal systems and run with them. That forces the agency world to adopt solutions quickly to show potential customers that you are capable.
“Anytime we are audited by a carrier we don’t have a problem,” he says. “We are doing business in a manner that is almost perfection. Carriers seem to love it. There are still some drag-along insurers that aren’t crazy about it, but I think they will turn around. If carriers are not doing digital signature and automation efficiencies, we are going to put business where it makes sense for us.”
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