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E-signature application saves insurer time and money

Insurance company Unum has experienced a dramatic reduction in document-processing time throughout the company since adopting e-signature technology from Adobe.

Representatives at insurance company Unum Group used to wait for up to 20 days to retrieve simple policy updates after the tedious process of mailing each document out to its policyholders.

After implementing an e-signature application from Adobe roughly two years ago, the international insurance company saw those turnaround times go from nearly three weeks to about 90 minutes.

"That's a huge change -- not only for us internally, but for the customer to get what they need quicker," said Christine Francis, manager for project delivery at Unum, based in Chattanooga, Tenn. "We're using it all over the place."

Last year, Unum sent 25,000 forms through the e-signature application, rebranded in April as Adobe Sign. Francis said the company has already sent about 20,500 forms so far this year through the app.

E-signatures aren't just helping the insurer save time, however.

"We're exploring with sending documents out digitally that also don't require signatures, like booklets and certificates, that had traditionally been mailed," Francis said. "That's a huge bulk of mail that we still send out. If we find that successful, that will be a huge green effort, and also a huge savings on paper and postage."

Francis couldn't provide dollar amounts on the savings thus far, adding that Unum hasn't fully integrated Adobe Sign with its systems.

Adobe is trying to make this transition to paperless document sharing and certifying as simple and streamlined as possible by integrating Adobe Sign with its Marketing and Document clouds.

"It's about the customer experience and better digital enrollment across the customer journey on any device," said Lisa Croft, group product manager for Adobe Document Cloud. "We really focused the last year on bringing all these products together under the Document Cloud."

In addition, Croft said the Adobe Sign mobile app has been upgraded, enabling customers and companies to sign off on official documents on the go.

"We made it really easy to send documents in Adobe Sign over to mobile," Croft said, demonstrating how an employee can send a request for a signature to another employee on her cell phone and have a colleague open it on a tablet.

Unum is still incorporating the mobile app, according to Craig Smith, a business programmer at the insurer, as the documents aren't optimized for mobile. But that doesn't mean it can't be done, Francis added.

"I've signed some documents in testing on my cell phone, so while it's not formatted for mobile yet, you can still do it," she said. "That's huge for our customers to do while they're traveling or on vacation. I would expect to see that to continue to grow."

Francis said the most common forms sent are elementary in nature: policy updates that need just a name or address change. Cutting those response times down from sometimes weeks to minutes is invaluable.

It gives us a comfort level we don't have with paper.
Craig Smithbusiness programmer, Unum Group

"I see it applying to all areas of the company -- HR, customers [and] vendors," she said, adding that Adobe's integration with other platforms, including financial management platform Workday and CRM application Salesforce, makes it easy to integrate across the company. "It's just a question of getting this adopted internally. We're an insurance company; we're conservative and change slowly. It will be a change management effort implementing this broadly."

Francis and Smith both championed the security features with using an e-signature application, with Smith calling it more secure than the traditional method.

"We have better visibility about who signed the document and viewed it," Smith said. "It gives us a comfort level we don't have with paper."

Francis added, "We're more comfortable with the security of this process than we are with our old internal process."

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