How to Create an Electronic Insurance Policy Binder

Every insurance agent sells an intangible product — a promise to pay, if or when something bad happens.

Electronic Insurance Policy Binder-1

The insurance policy we provide to our clients is the only physical representation of this promise. I have always felt it is important to reinforce the fact that this promise is real. That is why I created a physical policy binder for use in my father-in-law’s agency in the 80s that looked really good. I had a custom cover printed and custom-designed tab dividers that detailed each different type of possible coverage.

I also created a coverage summary document template in our agency management system that merged the client-specific coverage information. Each section of this document described the specific coverage provided, and we included it in the binder under the appropriate coverage tab.

We were one of the few agencies that went to this extent, and it helped set us apart.

Below is a recent question I received from a subscriber about electronic delivery of policy documents:

I have been an avid follower of yours for years, and I love what you do! (thanks!)
I have a few questions for you. Do you have a “Best Practices” or “How To” for agencies that are looking into electronic delivery of policies? I guess I’m looking for a procedure on how to take a paper policy and making it into an electronic file. I know how to scan docs into a PDF. But how to make them look professional is another. I’m more interested in the procedural process. I know some deliver on flash drives, some on CD-ROMs and others provide access via agency website log-in. Any direction would be wonderful!

Create an Electronic Insurance Policy Binder

It is easy to replicate the paper process I described above to create an electronic version of the old paper policy binders. Here are the steps to create an electronic insurance policy binder.

This process should work for most of the PDF software you use in your office. The steps I suggest include:

  • Create a policy delivery template in your agency management system. You should be able to duplicate your proposal template to create a policy delivery template. Make sure you understand the full capabilities of the merge feature for your agency management system platform. Templates can be set up for personal lines, small commercial, and larger commercial accounts.
  • Create a section page for each policy or coverage type. For example, I would create a section title page for “Property Coverage,” “Liability Coverage,” and then any other sections you think you need. Include as many sections as you think might be appropriate for the type of client. It is much easier to delete than add later.
  • If your management system utilizes Microsoft Word, then make sure to use the Word reference function to create automatic links to the sections created in the last step. For example, Word has an automatic Table of Contents function you might be able to use.
  • Print the delivery template to a PDF file. This allows you to merge policy and coverage data. Be aware that some PDF software have plug-ins specifically for Microsoft Word that automatically creates a table of contents with links.
  • Using your PDF software, insert the PDF of the policy received from the carrier directly after each of the previously created sections. Again, follow the directions for your particular software on how to insert an external PDF file.
  • If a table of contents is not automatically created in the PDF document, you could take the extra step of creating bookmarks for each of the coverage sections.

If your current platforms are not able to automatically create table of contents or bookmarks, it will take a bit more manual work on your part to create them. A simple way to learn how your platform works is to use the help and search for either “table of contents” or “bookmarks.”

Nuance Power PDF Advanced

My PDF software of choice is the Nuance Power PDF Advanced. One of its capabilities is “Document Assembly.” With Power PDF Advanced it is easy to assemble documents from multiple sources. Or sometimes you get multi-page PDF documents that lack a table of contents, to begin with. The challenge is how do you add a table of contents to the PDF document without a lot of typing, reformatting, and manual linking? Power PDF has an easy to use yet powerful way to create a table of contents that looks good automatically, is completely accurate, and linked.

Electronic Insurance Policy

Create Bookmarks

  • Open or create your multi-page PDF document.
  • Click on the Bookmarks panel button to the left of the screen.
  • Click the Select tool (It looks like an arrow) on the left-hand tool bar.
  • Go to a page where you want a table of contents entry to be recorded.
  • Select the text you want to appear in the table of contents.
  • In the Bookmarks panel, select “New Bookmark” under the “Bookmarks Panel Option” (it looks like a little gear).
  • Repeat this step for every table of content entry you want.
  • When all your bookmark entries are made, and you are ready to create your table of contents, select “Create Table of Contents…” under the “Bookmarks Panel Option.”
  • Click OK to have the table of contents created as your first page or change the options to get the desired result.

I recommend you take the process I have detailed above and experiment with how to adapt to your agency workflow and process based on the capability of your current software platforms. I believe we continue to need to deliver policy documents to our clients. More and more of our clients do not want the paper.

What process have you put in place to deliver electronic documents?

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Steve Anderson provides information to insurance agents about how they can use technology to increase revenue and/or reduce expenses. He speaks professionally to hundreds of agents each year on the future of technology, the social web, and how insurance agencies can establish their Internet presence.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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3 thoughts on “How to Create an Electronic Insurance Policy Binder

  1. Thanks for the article Steve. This is great for Agencies with manual binder or policy issuance, however, using a management system ‘document merges’ are supposed to be done at the backend. A good management software pre configures which forms to populate based on factors such lines, state and carrier and only gives admin user more option to add template or additional custom built forms.

  2. Tim, thanks for the comment. I was not suggesting that the PDF file from the carrier be altered but simply inserted into the coverage summary you created. I wonder if the protected carrier PDF would prevent this?

  3. Steve, Great ideas but increasingly carriers are securing/protecting their PDF files (they don’t send paper) to make them unalterable. Sometimes you can print the PDF to another PDF to be able to manipulate it, but this can result in very large file sizes that are impractical to store or email. Other times printing to PDF results in file that is still unalterable. Thanks for sharing your ideas. Tim