Guidelines for Obtaining Digital Signatures
The guidelines below apply when a policyholder is digitally signing insurance documents from a remote location.
FMH encourages its appointed agents and policyholders to transact business electronically and improve service and efficiency by digitally signing forms necessary to secure an insurance policy offered by FMH. Prior to accepting digital signatures, agents are responsible for obtaining policyholder consent and for providing any necessary consumer disclosures. Agents are also responsible for obtaining the policyholder’s email address and for ensuring the email address on file is current. A proper digital signature process will authenticate the signer’s identity, ensure the document was timely signed and not altered after signature, and create an audit trail or certification of the signing process.
The digital signature process generally begins with the agent uploading the form to a secure third-party site and designating on the form where the digital signature should be applied. Once the form is uploaded for signature, the policyholder receives a link or electronic notice with instructions on how to access the form and complete the signature process. On initial use, the digital signature software should prompt the signer to create a user profile or otherwise authenticate their identity with a password, policy number, or other unique identifier. The policyholder would then digitally sign and submit the document. The digital signature settings should preferably be configured to apply a date stamp on the form, in or near the signature block, similar to the following: “DIGITALLY SIGNED BY J. Doe on 2014-03-29 15:02:15 CST.” Once all required signatures are obtained, the document should be uploaded to the FMH Agent Center and/or stored in the agency files. If a change is needed to a document that has already been digitally signed, the revised document must be resubmitted for a new digital signature.
Typical free software (e.g., Adobe Acrobat Reader) should not be used as these programs generally do not incorporate digital technology processes and security. If FMH believes an electronic signature was not obtained using a digital signature process, FMH may reject the form or request additional supporting documentation from the agent or directly from the policyholder or person signing with the policyholder’s authority. Upon any such request by FMH or any regulatory body, the agent must provide an audit trail or other satisfactory documentation showing the form was timely signed by a person with the legal authority to sign.
Agents must abide by the document retention periods as set forth by FMH or any regulatory authority and be able to provide copies of all digitally signed documents within the time set forth in the Agency Agreement or any applicable addendum thereto.