Legal Insights for Insurance Professionals Transitioning from Paper to Digital Business Processes

By Michael Laurie, VP of Product Strategy, e-SignLive by Silanis

Toronto, ON (Aug. 12, 2014) – Recently Daniel Fabiano, partner at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, presented a webinar with Silanis Technology, Insurance Documentation: E-Signature & E-Delivery, and authored a three-part series, The Canadian Perspective: Legal Best Practices for E-Signatures in Insurance. Mr. Fabiano advises technology providers, developers and users in a number of capacities including Internet, e-commerce platforms, social media, licensing and privacy matters, and has extensive experience with e-commerce and electronic signatures.

Here are the highlights from the presentation (the complete transcript can be downloaded here):

1. E-commerce, which can refer to a number of topics, including electronic contracting / electronic signatures, electronic delivery of documents and retaining electronic records in place of paper records, can automate and expedite business processes. This can cut operational costs, and improve efficiency and collaboration across an organization. It can improve the customer experience in that customers are increasingly expecting an electronic platform when they are dealing with businesses. Also, it is environmentally friendly because you’re not dealing with all the paper.

2. Concerns about compliance and liability risk are actually counter-intuitive: there are obvious and powerful advantages to e-commerce, including the potential for heightened compliance measures and increased security. A well-designed electronic process can mitigate these risks.

3. E-commerce laws do not oblige anyone to use electronic means to conduct business. No one can be compelled to participate in the electronic execution or delivery of insurance documents and consent is required. Consent can be express or implied depending on the context. When using electronic means to enter into contracts and deliver documents, consent language should be clearly stated in the documents. The consent should be obtained at the outset, and should apply to entering into a contract electronically and to the ongoing delivery of information by electronic means (e.g., email).

4. The risk of repudiation is always a concern for any type of transaction, whether electronic or paper. Some say that the risk of repudiation is exacerbated in an online environment because you don’t necessarily know who is at the other end of the Internet connection. Any concerns and risks can be mitigated with a well-designed process that keeps the three I’s in mind:

  • Identity: Does the process address the identity of the person signing the document? Is the electronic signature that person’s signature?
  • Intention: Did the person apply his or her signature with the intent to sign this document?
  • Integrity: Is the electronic signature bound to the document so that any changes to the document (after it is signed) can be detected and flagged?

5. Under e-commerce legislation, information in a document in an electronic form can satisfy a legal requirement that it be “in writing” as long as the electronic form is accessible for subsequent reference. As long as the person signing the document can access it in the future – for example, a copy is sent to his or her email address – then the document can be considered to be provided “in writing” to that person.

6. E-commerce laws speak to retaining an electronic copy of a record rather than an original paper record. For example, a legal requirement may specify that an original document must be provided to a person or an original document must be kept for a period of time. Generally, e-commerce laws allow an electronic copy to be retained or provided in place of an original document, provided that:

  • The electronic version is organized in the same or substantially the same way as the paper original;
  • There is reliable assurance as to the integrity of the information in the electronic document – it has not been altered in an unauthorized manner;
  • The electronic document is accessible for subsequent reference by whoever is entitled to access it.

If an electronic document is sent or received in lieu of a paper document, e-commerce laws require some additional information to be tracked, namely: where the document came from (i.e., it’s origin); where the document was sent (if sent); and the time and date it was sent, received (or created). As long as this information is retained, e-commerce laws generally permit an electronic record to stand in place of a paper copy.

To learn more about how insurance agents and carriers are using e-signatures to minimize delays, improve compliance, increase revenue, improve customer loyalty and lower operating costs, visit the Silanis resource center.

About the Author

Michael Laurie

Michael Laurie co-founded Silanis Technology more than 20 years ago. Today he holds the position of vice president of Strategic Development, responsible for planning and growth of new markets and applications and oversees product and industry marketing for the company. An expert in the field of compliance and standards for electronic signatures and e-vaulting solutions, he frequently presents on the subject and has participated in numerous industry standards associations including SPeRS, ESRA, and IRI. Mr. Laurie previously worked for Matrox Electronics, in areas ranging from sales and marketing to engineering and customer support. Mr. Laurie holds a bachelor of sciences in electrical engineering, from Laval University.

About Silanis

Silanis is the world’s leading electronic signature provider. Since the company was founded in 1992, our software has automated business transactions that require secure, compliant and enforceable e-signatures. Recognized as the enterprise market leader, we are responsible for processing more than 600 million e-signed transactions annually – more than any other e-signature vendor. These transactions represent billions of dollars worth of regulated business processes taking place 24/7 around the globe, from insurance applications and consumer loans to federal procurement contracts. Visit for more information.

Source: Silanis