Electronic signatures have been
a great time-saving solution for
agents and policyholders, but as
Donegal Insurance Group learned,
the technology also allowed its
underwriters to limit manual
follow-ups, which were previously
conducted to ensure signed applications and supporting documentation from the agents was complete.
“That process was time consuming and we believed there was room
for improvement,” says Brian Donovan, manager of agency automation
Donegal launched a personal lines portal in 2005 with considerable success. During the last decade, Donegal Insurance Group
also has grown through acquisitions. That combined growth
increased the volume of work for Donegal’s underwriters.
“We were heavily involved with the use of technology and we
automated many processes that were traditionally manual. We saw
(e-signatures) as another opportunity to free up internal resources
and give the agent and the customers a better experience when
they choose Donegal,” says Donovan.
The search for a solution began at the executive level with initial
research on various vendors. They were able to narrow the list to
a handful, and then the vendors, including e-SignLive by Silanis,
presented their products to Donegal.
Donegal likes to keep everything on site and has not invested
heavily in the cloud, according to Donovan. A second point in
e-SignLive’s favor was the level of comfort the insurer had with the
people at the company.
“They have industry knowledge as well as an openness and
flexibility to work with us,” says Donovan. “Every company has
unique needs. They worked closely with us to seamlessly integrate
e-signatures into our system.”
Donegal began the search in 2013 and e-SignLive was selected
in the beginning of 2014. The insurer rolled out the product in
Pennsylvania in pilot mode that year.
“We had a lot of work to do on our side to determine how we
would integrate it into our system workflow,” says Donovan. “We
worked with the e-SignLive people as far as how the technology
would come together. We spent time from the legal perspective to
be comfortable with the legality of it all and took a hard look at the
audit and review functionality that e-SignLive offered.”
The ability to track and see what happened in each signing
is important, according to Donovan. Regulatory issues weren’t
a problem with the various states Donegal is licensed in as far as
being legally binding.
“We have some forms that are required for different states and
those are filed, so we had to make sure we weren’t altering (the doc-
uments) in any way or if we needed to re-file any forms,” he says.
Donegal chose to start in Pennsylvania, the carrier’s home state.
A half dozen agencies with good relationships with the carrier were
chosen to pilot the program.
“Our independent agency force has an open line of communication.
They tell us what they like and don’t like and we value their opinion,”
says Donovan. “While implementing e-SignLive, we had territory sales
managers and regional vice presidents working with agents, visiting their
offices, and walking them through the first time using the system.”
In the spring of this year, Donegal held regional meetings with
the agency force and received feedback on what they like and why
they would use the solution. There are holdouts, explained Don-
ovan, citing two issues: Some agencies already had an e-signature
solution and insurance customers were not comfortable unless they
signed a piece of paper.
Donegal is holding the line on having agencies use the e-SignLive
solution since there is no cost for the agencies and Donegal houses
the solution internally. Donovan concedes changing minds on some
technology advances is challenging at times, so if a customer is hesi-
tant to the new ways, the insurer will continue to offer paper signing.
Donegal’s internal staff understands the technology. Processes
were changed, points out Donovan, but it was a matter of educating
“We did internal training to show them new workflows and
how things were going to change,” he says.
E-signatures free up resources on the underwriting side.
Talking with the managers, Donovan learned the amount of hours
saved, which can be directed to other tasks, has been a major bene-
fit, as well as the improved audit trail.
“The technology helps expedite resolutions when assisting
agents,” he says. “If we get a call to our triage center, our staff can
look and see what happened and figure out what documents need
to be signed.”
“Some clients will still want paper,” he says. “Moving forward,
we also have the desire to use it internally for various functions.
We’re looking to integrate it into various aspects of Donegal to
improve productivity and expand ease of doing business.” ITA
Opportunity for Automation
Donegal Insurance adopted e-signature technology to save time for agents,
policyholders, and underwriters.
The Big Fix
By Robert Regis Hyle