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ABI publishes Principles for the use of eSignatures

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has today published a set of High Level Principles on the use of e-Signatures, ensuring that applying for and buying valuable 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. They allow a customer’s consent to be sent instantly to the insurer.

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), with approval from the General Medical Council (GMC), in developing these Principles. They 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 key benefits of e-Signatures are:

  • Safety – Prevent documents being tampered with as you can track the record of the changes that have been made
  • Ease - Save the hassle of paperwork and postage costs
  • Speed – Less time consuming than printing, faxing and filing

Charlie CampbellCharlie 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."

Notes for Editors

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

2. Research in 2014 by e-Commerce bodies found that there was a desire by life and pension providers to move away from the use of wet signatures as a means of obtaining consent for requesting medical underwriting data from GPs. Product providers have introduced e-Signatures for the servicing and sales of life and pension products and the development of extranets for use by advisers and direct clients alike. They see this as a way of providing advisers and clients with a better level of service and improving upon current safeguards around obtaining patients’ medical information whilst also protecting the doctor-patient relationship.

Last updated 01/07/2016