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Sign on the Dotted Screen

E-signature build-out makes Chubb's professional and management liability insurance application process fully electronic.

Seeking to meet agents' increasingly demanding ease-of-use expectations, Chubb Group has launched electronic signature capability for 10 of its professional and management liability insurance products. "We spoke with our agents and brokers in order to understand their needs and responded to them," says Judy Cook, VP, Chubb & Son (Warren, N.J.; $12.3 billion in 2005 net written premium), and e-business manager, Chubb Specialty Insurance. Chubb plans to enable six more of the products in that line of business by May. "We built the e-signature infrastructure and initially worked on the most popular products," Cook adds. "As we see a need to support additional products, we now have a foundation to automate those also."

Building out e-signature capability was a crucial step in making the application process entirely electronic, explains Cook. "Without the electronic signature functionality, a client would have to complete an application electronically, then print it, apply a wet signature and mail it in," she says. "Now the client can complete signing the application electronically and simply e-mail it to their agent or broker, who will then check it and e-mail it to Chubb without having to follow up with a hard copy."

Chubb is taking a "step in the right direction" by building e-signature capability, according to Craig Weber, a Boston-based analyst with Celent. "Chubb recognizes that some of its distributors and insureds would prefer an online solution and are willing to go through the minor inconvenience of the electronic signature process to avoid the hassle and delay of mailing a paper form," he says.

Perfect Performance

Having experimented with the new functionality, Weber reports that it performed "perfectly." He notes that any fear the process might provoke among customers new to e-signatures and certificates should be a minor issue because "Chubb has built such a solid foundation as a provider." But, Weber suggests, Chubb's e-signature process could benefit from better validation functionality. "They seem to have used minimal field validation, raising a worry about incomplete forms being transmitted," he remarks. "That may result in less reduction of rework than most carriers seek when they implement e-signatures."

Nevertheless, the enablement of the 10 products shows that Chubb has surmounted what Weber regards as the toughest obstacle: convincing corporate counsel that the benefits of e-signature are worth even a minimal business risk. With this development, "Chubb has pushed its bobsled onto the run and is starting down," Weber says. "My guess is that they will accelerate quickly and build out full functionality on these and other forms."

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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