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Agents Bracing for Impact Of Electronic Signature Law.

The federal e-signature law took effect Oct. 1, but it may be some time before it actually affects agents on a day-to-day basis. The law gives electronic signatures the same legal standing as wet-ink signatures.

For example, agents in New Jersey have yet to notice any change, because the state's Department of Banking and Insurance must first make regulatory adjustments to accommodate the use of e-signatures, said Jeanne Heisler, president of the Ronan Agency, Brick, N.J., and state national director for the Independent Insurance Agents of New Jersey.

New Jersey agents also are waiting for insurers to tell them which systems to use for securing electronic signatures and transactions, Heisler said.

Things may be a little different in Florida, said Jim Brainerd, vice president for governmental affairs and general counsel of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents, Tallahassee, Fla. He said Florida may have a leg up on other states, because its Legislature passed a law allowing contracts to be bound by credit card.

Brainerd said he hadn't heard of any problems from agents regarding the use of e-signatures, and "If there have been any problems, I would be the first to hear about them."

Brainerd didn't expect problems to arise from the various systems available to companies for use in e-transactions, because federal law protects agents from being held accountable for problems that may arise with a particular system. The federal law includes a provision that agents and brokers can't be held liable for any deficiency in the electronic signature or record process if the agent or broker hasn't engaged in intentional misconduct and didn't help develop the e-signature process. The law doesn't specify what kind of technology that companies should use to formalize their electronic signature processes.
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Comment:Agents Bracing for Impact Of Electronic Signature Law.
Publication:Best's Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2000
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