Scottish Widows is looking to embrace digital technology to increase efficiency in their protection business for advisers and customers, according to the provider’s head of underwriting.
Scott Cadger, head of underwriting and claims strategy at Scottish Widows, said digital improvements to the provider's service would allow customer needs to be better met.
After a trial in the second quarter of this year, Scottish Widows launched e-signature capability and access to electronic versions of frequently-used documents across its protection service in August.
Mr Cadger said: "When advisers and customers tell us that some of our processes in Scottish Widows are time-consuming, we are always looking for ways to address this.
"We have radically reduced the amount of time it takes to return and receive vital customer documentation.
"Using e-signature technology, it now only takes two days instead of 14 for new customer documents to be returned, and one day instead of 11 for existing customer documents to be received."
The newly introduced electronic documents include application summary, welcome pack and plan summary.
Mr Cadger said he is already seeing benefits from the digital improvements in a recent case in which a Scottish Widows customer was hospitalised without access to their paper-based documents.
The customer was able to access the necessary documents in electronic form on a tablet, allowing Scottish Widows to make payment the following morning.
Mr Cadger said the latest change is the first step of many as Scottish Widows aims to "transform the protection market" with further developments expected in the future.
He said Scottish Widows would do this by focusing efforts in "the areas that matter most for customers and intermediaries."
Mr Cadger said the provider would simplify the protection underwriting and claims experience and "deliver on our ultimate promise-to pay claims quickly."
Alan Knowles, managing director at Cura Financial Services, said Scottish Widows’ introduction of e-signatures and electronic documents were a welcome addition to the protection industry.
He said: "There are parts of the protection market which are still quite old fashioned and cumbersome, and the use of traditional print and mail is one of these.
"Whilst I do not think complete digitisation of our industry is the way forward, I do believe that the market should adopt technology to make the processing easier and more efficient for the customer."
Mr Knowles added: "E-signatures allow customers to sign documents immediately and there is no concern of them then being lost in the post. The new generations want and expect things to be done quickly, so this seems like a perfect move forward."