Digital Onboarding and E‑Signature: The New Normal in Insurance

Jeannine Mulliner,

We regularly host webcasts on topics such as e-signature, digital identity verification, and digital security best practices. If you missed our recent webcast, Preparing for the New Normal in Insurance Onboarding with PC360, here is the 5 minute summary. The full presentation is available on-demand.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, insurers, financial institutions, credit unions, and businesses across the globe had to transition to purely remote digital processes essentially overnight. While digitizing efforts in many industries were already underway, COVID-19 undoubtedly accelerated the shift to digital-first strategies for customer acquisition, new account opening, and self-service processes. In the insurance industry, a key digital transformation focus has been figuring out how to safely onboard new customers without the face-to-face and paper interactions that were the industry norm in identity verification.

We’re now months in to mass social distancing efforts, and many companies have managed to address essential business continuity challenges to ensure their survival. As a result, we’re starting to see a readiness to tackle the next set of challenges: improving the digital onboarding experience.

Modern agreement technologies, digital identity verification, and e-signature have really started to enable organizations to simplify both the digital employee experience as well as the digital customer experience. Multiple paper-based steps in the traditional onboarding process can be completely eliminated with the help of digital technologies leading to a simpler, more convenient experience without compromising on security.

Balancing Security with Improved Customer Experience

Offering a fully digital onboarding experience has never been more essential to meeting customer expectations and providing a strong user experience. Accenture Insurance highlighted this development in a recent survey, noting a clear and growing preference for digital technologies.

However, with the increased demand for online solutions comes serious customer concerns around authentication and security. In a recent Forrester survey, a majority of respondents did not feel secure using their financial information online or on mobile devices. Notably, 36% of respondents feel it is only a matter of time before their information is stolen.

onboarding of new customersThe good news is that insurance companies can make significant strides toward meeting customer expectations by implementing end-to-end digital processes. Digital identity verification enables full process automation and essentially eliminates the need for in-person verifications to create a nearly frictionless customer experience. After the applicant has been properly identified in real-time, they are presented with documents to review and e-sign. The transition to purely a digital onboarding process can reduce a traditionally lengthy experience from taking days or weeks to mere minutes.

During our webinar we asked the audience (79% insurance industry professionals), “How are you currently handling onboarding of new customers?” Results indicated that almost 85% have already adopted either partial automation strategies or fully digital onboarding practices. This is a great trend to see and one that we fully expect to continue in the coming years.

Choosing the Right Solution

Whether you’re just starting to digitize the customer journey or on your way to full automation, incorporating e-signatures is an essential (and easy to implement) strategy that can reduce customer onboarding delays and improve the customer experience. There are two approaches to implementing e-signatures: user-initiated and integrated. Both provide operational efficiency, improve the customer experience, and reduce document errors, but each also have distinct advantages. The first is ideal for lower volume processes and satisfies the most common signing workflows (e.g. contracts and agreements). This is a great place to start as there is absolutely no development required; simply upload your document, select your signers, and begin e-signing in minutes.​

The second is an integrated approach designed for larger, system-initiated processes. This solution gives you the ability to add e-signing capabilities into your own applications such as your website, mobile app, or any core system and create automatically-generated workflows. OneSpan’s open industry standard REST API, as well as fully supported SDKs for Java, .NET, APEX, iOS and Android, allows you to embed e-signing capabilities in any application or onboarding platform.​ For a full breakdown of the advantages offered by both approaches, check out the table below:


Success Story

On the broker side, another great example is Mitchell & Whale, one of the fastest organically growing brokerages in Ontario. They adapted to the modern consumer long before COVID-19, leading to a unique customer demographic with 50% under the age of 40. This success is in large part due to their digital strategy, for which they carefully selected technologies that met the needs of their existing workflows. By creating user-initiated e-signature enabled templates and requiring mandatory agent training, they were able to quickly digitize their strategy and simplify the process for both agents and customers alike.

Key takeaway: Digitizing efforts can be a part of a larger digital transformation initiative to help streamline existing workflows, and proper employee training is essential to ensuring a successful integration.

Additional E-Signature Resources

Thinking of making the switch to e-signature? Whether an insurance provider, financial institution, financial services organization, credit union, or other organization, consider these additional resources:


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For 20 years, Jeannine has been writing about technology and how to apply it to solve business challenges. In her role as Content Director at OneSpan, Jeannine leads a team of writers and content creators focused on helping enterprise organizations secure their digital agreements and transactions. Jeannine has a BA in Professional Writing from l’Université de Sherbrooke.