In the past few years, the life insurance industry has faced many regulatory hurdles for different reasons, all of which were ostensibly aimed at protecting consumers but might not have had the intended effects. Now, though, a law has been passed in the state of Pennsylvania that might serve to make things easier for both insurers themselves and policyholders going forward.
The piece of legislation - originally House Bill 972 - became Act 30 of 2015 last week, when it was signed into law, according to a report from Pennsylvania Business Daily. It was originally advanced by state Rep. Tina Pickett, a Republican representing parts of Bradford and Susquehanna Counties, as well as all of Sullivan County, and gives life insurers the ability to send policies and annuities to consumers electronically, if that policyholder chooses the option.
A closer look at the law
However, this delivery method does not supplant the requirement that the physical paperwork has to be sent by mail or another delivery method, but it does update the original law for how insurance companies have to pass along documentation, which was first written in 1921, the report said. Pickett, who chairs the House Insurance Committee, told the site that the law was simply intended to make sure the state's regulations are capable of keeping up with technology even as they stick with the old methods.
Previous to this new law, insurers were required to send documentation via certified mail, or it had to be delivered by hand, the report said. By sending it electronically - again, this applies only if the customer opts into receiving it that way - as well as physically, it may actually create an additional benefit in helping people keep track of their documentation.
What else should insurers keep in mind?
While they now have more flexibility in how they send documentation to consumers, they are still required by law to have proof of such delivery on hand, the report said. This will apply to when they mailed either the physical copy or email. If there is disagreement between the consumer and insurer, the burden of proof for that delivery of the policy will remain with the insurer. The law won't go in effect until 60 days after it was signed.
This is likely to be seen as good news for the insurance company and consumers alike. The more ways documentation can be delivered, and the greater the ease in which people have when dealing with their life insurance policies, the better off both they and their insurers are likely to be. Beyond that, though, this law may also indicate a positive trend for the life insurance industry as a whole when it comes to modernizing the ways in which it's regulated. If lawmakers can routinely update the rules for the sector to make sure the realities of the business are reflected in the regulatory controls over it, then all involved could stand to benefit.