Royal London is to use electronic signatures for medical consent forms in a move that could slash claim turnaround times.
The insurer said the roll-out of the technology could cut the time taken to obtain medical evidence from a claimant’s GP or consultant from an average of 18 days to 48 hours.
It can be used in place of the usual, paper-based method in which a consent form is sent out by post before being signed and returned in order to allow the claims assessor to obtain the necessary medical evidence.
A secure email process can also be used to obtain consent, but it requires the claimant to have a printer and scanner to hand.
Craig Paterson, underwriting claims and philosophy manager at Royal London, said “It can take 18 days on average for a traditional paper claim form to be completed and returned to us.
“Our experience with using electronic signatures in other parts of Royal London is that almost all are completed and returned within 48 hours. Implementing this in claims will ultimately mean we can pay claims earlier, releasing crucial funds to our customers when they need them most.
"This process will initially be introduced for critical illness claimants where we conduct a telephone-based claim with a view to rolling this out to our full book of claims in 2018."
Alan Lakey, partner at Hertfordshire-based Highclere Financial Services, said the move would be welcomed by customers and advisers.
He said: “If you look at the last three years and the clients who did not go ahead with a plan, each one was a case with a delay – in one case of nine months.
"Anything that speeds up the process has got to be good."