Tag Archives: electronic signature

LiveMed Brings Digital Human Touch

Many tasks and actions have been replaced by digital solutions. This is nothing new. However, sometimes nothing beats a face-to-face with a customer. Now, using a VideoTech platform, Silicon Valley start-up LiveMed replicates the physical face-to-face with a digital one.

I’ll start with an event that happened to me last year. I’ll skip the details, other than to say I was required to confirm my identity and sign a document by a department in a financial institution.

With my passport and utility bill in hand, I went in search of a branch (which isn’t as easy as it used to be, even in Central London). It didn’t help that the fax machine at the first branch I found was out of order, so I had to find another one, which I did! After much back-and-forth on the phone between the department, the branch and me, we completed the process, and I was on my way.

What struck me at the time was how out-of-date this financial institution was. Not just technically or digitally but also in terms of customer experience. And it was completely unnecessary.

Digital FinTechs and InsurTechs have been onboarding new clients in less than 10 minutes, without any physical interaction. Identities can be proven and verified in a matter of minutes with background checks, a photo of your passport and a selfie.

The use of eSignatures is widespread. In the U.S., the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act is a federal law put in place to facilitate the use of electronic signatures in commerce (long-form definition on Wikipedia, here). In the European Union, the equivalent regulation is the Electronic Signature Directive (see Wikipedia reference here) that defines the use of eSignatures in electronic contracts within the E.U.

Both these legislative frameworks require the same thing, which is that electronic signatures are regarded as equivalent to written signatures.

Given all this, was it really necessary for me to spend several hours inconvenienced and, frankly, wasting time?

Last month, I wrote about the use of VideoTech in the claims handling process In that piece, I talked to InsurTech startup Vis.io about its use of video technology to both reduce cost for insurers and improve the customer experience for claimants.

This week, I move to the front end of the insurance process—client onboarding and policy administration—and talk to LiveMed. To tell me how their solution brings together the use of video, customer identification and eSignatures, I Skyped with Silicon Valley-based co-founder and CEO Yair Ravid.

Ravid explained to me, “LiveMed is a platform that allows financial institutions to confirm customer identity remotely, collect signatures remotely and provide a video record of the customer engagement.”

The way it works is simple.

When a face-to-face discussion is required, the insurer emails a link to the customer. This can be for events such as confirming a customer’s understanding of the insurance policy conditions or witnessing the signing of all parts of the policy agreement.

The customer activates the link and is connected via a live video to an insurance agent. The agent uses the LiveMed platform to conduct a secure, face-to-face discussion with the client. The platform allows documents to be shared between the two parties, which they can both review and amend in real time, before both parties sign electronically and the document is locked down.

The whole session is recorded and kept for several years in case a customer disputes the policy conditions or that he even signed the policy in the first place. (If you are interested in an example of a policyholder disputing an electronic signature, read this article in the Insurance Journal about Bonck v White.)

Knowing whom you’re talking to

While digital facial recognition technology (and other biometric measures) are advanced and sophisticated, humans remain better at visual identification. In some jurisdictions, that remains the only option because biometrics are not yet permitted for identity verification.

“Humans understand the face holistically,” according to the study “The Limits of Facial Recognition” by Tim De Chant. And visual identification still carries great weight in the process of verifying a customer’s identity and in fraud detection. Humans are better at assessing if we are who we say we are or if our claim is suspect.

There will always be occasions when a face-to-face meeting is required to complete a transaction. LiveMed enables this human interaction without requiring the customer to go to a branch or an insurance agent to visit the customer’s home.

More than a VideoTech platform

Behind the video interaction, LiveMed’s algorithms verify the authenticity of documents supplied by the customer. Ravid told me, “When a customer brings in a fake document, we have a high success rate at identifying if it is a fake. We’ve developed a solution that takes real IDs, studies different parameters against them and then compares these with the documents being presented. The institution still relies on human judgment, but LiveMed gives the agent a reliable tool to help with the decision.”

The LiveMed platform uses webRTC, an open-source platform that provides browsers and mobile applications with real-time communications (RTC) capabilities via simple APIs. It also runs as a cloud or an on-premise solution to cater to an institution’s specific requirements and policies on security, data and technology.

It is a device-independent platform that delivers both mobile and web. Ravid explained, “We’ve worked hard to make this very easy to use for the customer. Simply click on the link, go online with the agent, finalize or review the document, open the signature box and then sign with their finger. Simple!

“We take any format document or webpage, whatever, and turn them into a series of pictures. This allows changes, sketches and amendments on the screen by both parties, [in] real time. Then these pictures, or pages, are locked and put together and sent to both parties as a record. We are patenting the technology because we believe it to be unique.”

The old-fashioned ways are no longer viable

Asking a customer to come into a branch carrying paper documents just isn’t going to cut it any more. Nor is the cost of sending a representative to meet the customer. In this digital, mobile age, time is precious, and money is tight.

We are also in the consumer protection age of regulation. Financial institutions need to be able to prove beyond doubt that their conduct is acceptable and that customers fully understand the financial decisions they are making.

This requires evidence both parties can rely on should there be a dispute. (See my previous research notes on RecordSure and its use of AI for compliance monitoring.)

With LiveMed, the finance institution “sees” the person in real time without the inconvenience or cost of a physical, in-person meeting. And because the transaction is completed there and then, the insurer doesn’t have to wait for documents to be sent and processed. And both parties can be certain there are no mistakes (that it’s right the first time) because everything is checked and verified on the video call.

What next for LiveMed?

Ravid is one of three co-founders who bootstrapped LiveMed and took the start-up through the UpWest Labs accelerator in Palo Alto. LiveMed has now raised its first $400,000 from seed funding on its way to raising $1.5 million in a Series A. The minimally viable product (MVP) is built and in pilot with several financial institutions, and the new funding will enable the LiveMed to launch the platform into the U.S. financial services market.

This article was first published at www.dailyfintech.com 

E-Signatures: an Easy Tech Win

While industry analysts and thought leaders speculate on the adoption and impact of telematics, driverless cars and the Internet of Things on insurance, it is worth revisiting how we are doing with more mainstream technologies. Electronic signatures and e-apps have been around for years, yet paper-based applications remain the norm. A survey of 113 insurance professionals conducted late in 2014 by e-SignLive and PC360 revealed only 33% of respondents are using e-signatures.

Because insurance is a regulated industry, “paper” work is inevitably at the heart of all we do. For that reason, any effort to digitize the business of insurance needs to start by eliminating paper and manual signatures. From there, digital records and the data they contain can flow seamlessly through distribution, policy administration, ratings, billing, claims and other core systems. Digital insurance is not a theoretical, utopian concept. It is not only possible – it is being done with great success.

E-signatures are a relatively quick and easy technology to add to your existing core systems and workflows. Yes, it is possible to get started overnight, but don’t let the minimal investment of time and money fool you – the impact of going digital is significant for everyone involved.

BENEFITS FOR CARRIERS

Full Visibility

Digital transactions have unique advantages over paper. When your business mails out a paper package for a customer to sign, you have no control once the documents leave your hands. Similarly, if your business takes place through the agent channel, you have little control over the process. Were the proper procedures followed at every stage of the process?

The blind spot that exists with paper is eliminated online. Insurance companies gain real-time visibility into what is taking place at the time of signing. Overnight, you can monitor the status of in-progress transactions, track drop-offs and transactions about to expire and analyze trends in customer behavior.

NIGO Rates Bottom Out

In the digital world, customers go online, get quotes, choose coverage and complete an application through the channels and devices of their choice. They enter application data electronically, and workflow rules are enforced to ensure an error-free application.

Overnight, this eliminates the average 60% Not-in-Good-Order (NIGO) rate that occurs with paper-based new business applications. It saves the industry hundreds of millions of dollars, in hours that no longer have to be spent fixing documents. This is significant, considering that an error-free digital process costs a third to a fourth of what a process with errors costs.

Easily Demonstrated Compliance

Once your new business applications become completely digital, compliance teams will be one of the biggest winners. By automating, they gain the ability to:

  • Capture digital audit trails, including an active audit trail that allows you to replay any transaction exactly as the customer experienced it;
  • Minimize exposure to risk because of misplaced or lost documentation;
  • Make the process of demonstrating compliance less resource- and time-intensive.

Online transactions with strong audit trails provide a record of every action taken by customers. You know when they signed, how they signed, how much time they spent reading each page, what IP address they transacted from. Plus, audit trail data can be extracted for analytics purposes and even greater insight into your business.

Once your company has gone digital, you no longer spend weeks preparing for audits and market conduct exams, identifying paper files or getting them out of storage. How would your VP of compliance react if you told her that you could quickly pull any signed record from a database of millions of documents, guarantee it is in good order and replay the entire transaction to prove that your company followed all regulatory rules?

Virtually All Legal Disputes Defused

When carriers think about going digital, many have concerns over legal risk. Fortunately, the legal framework has been in place since 2000. Case law has shown that if the process is clear to the signer, and signer intent is properly established, the courts will accept e-signatures and e-records as evidence.

A top auto insurer can attest to the fact that e-signatures decrease the risk of legal disputes compared with paper signing. This carrier has been capturing customers’ signatures electronically for the last 10 years and has only seen one case involving e-signed records go to court – despite more than one million customer inquiries.

Costs Cut

Keeping transactions digital helps your bottom line. Gartner Research reported on a large carrier’s digital process, noting, “E-signatures saved $10 per transaction, with the potential of annual recurring savings of millions of dollars. This includes costs for mailing, postage, paper handling and processing.” There were 275 million life insurance policies in force in the U.S. in 2013. Multiply that by $10, and the potential industry-wide savings climb into the billions.

Immediacy

Across all channels, closing the deal when the customer is ready and engaged is critical. By offering e-signature capability on its website, one global insurer is able to convert visitors immediately and avoid dropoff rates that occur when the process falls to paper.

This is as advantageous for new business and renewals as it is for claims. Clearly, the immediacy of submitting a signed claim from a smartphone on the spot is a differentiator. For the customer, that means faster resolution in moments of stress – ultimately improving satisfaction and increasing retention.

BENEFITS FOR CUSTOMERS

Customers want convenience and speed and a company that is easy to do business with. McKinsey recently confirmed that, “more than 80% of insurance customers began their shopping process using direct channels. Online is increasingly the initial channel of choice even among customers who value the agent relationship.”

Clearly, expediting the process of buying insurance is important across all channels. Someone who starts insurance shopping on Google Compare may very well still appreciate having an informed agent talk him through the policy options, but not if that means dropping back to an antiquated, paper-ridden, offline process.

Keeping the transaction digital just makes it so much easier to purchase, renew or modify a policy. Carriers repeatedly find that e-signatures help lower NIGO rates, increase customer loyalty and boost referrals. In fact, one insurer experienced a 14% higher retention rate with customers who e-signed their new business policy.

BENEFITS FOR AGENTS

Both captive and independent agents spend too much time on administrative work. Insurance Journal reported that, “Only about one-third of producers spend more than half their time selling […] Instead, they are spending more time than they think they should on administration and client service.”

Even when using a modern agency management system or e-app, productivity is lost when you have to print to paper for signatures. Those applications must then be photocopied, shipped, faxed, chased down, corrected, scanned and archived. All of this creates a huge time and productivity drain. The good news is, e-signatures save as much as 90% of the time and cost of administrative labor.

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GOING DIGITAL MAKES SENSE FOR INSURANCE

Clearly, the insurance industry is moving down the path to digital. However, the pace of change is accelerating, and carriers and producers that don’t offer a fully digital process online and on mobile devices will be left behind. Analyst firm Novarica sums it up best: “The time for insurance carriers to take concerted action with an e-signature strategy is, in Novarica’s view, now. The technology, legal framework and customer expectations have all reached a point where carriers need to proceed in order to compete.”