Downeast Insurance Achieves Lasting Efficiency Gains in Its New Normal with Docusign and Applied Epic

  • 150

    Signatures captured per month
  • Agent time spent on document processing
  • Time freed up for sales

In an era where insurtech companies have disrupted traditional models of insurance distribution, independent agencies differentiate themselves. Downeast Insurance has succeeded by being a people-first organization, helping its customers navigate and access coverage. In 2002, the agency was formed by Downeast Credit Union to provide members with competitive prices on a wide range of personal and business coverage. Today, Downeast Insurance serves Mainers through offices at each of the credit union’s eight branches.

For an organization that prides itself on greeting its members with a smile and a handshake, Downeast faced some fundamental challenges at the onset of the pandemic. “We were asking ourselves: How are we going to run our business when we’re at home? How are we going to issue that policy when a customer can't come into the office?” recalled Stacy Johansen, President of Downeast Insurance. Fortunately, the organization had already established a relationship with Docusign years prior—and 2020 proved to be the opportune time to kick digital transformation into high gear.

Spending more time closing deals and less time tracking down signatures

Prior to Docusign, the process of onboarding a new customer or writing a new policy included a lot of phone calls, paper, postage, office visits—and in some cases, even driving to customers’ homes to capture signatures. For Downeast’s agents, this old way of doing business was most challenging when they made special exceptions to provide customers same-day coverage. “Sometimes I’d have to knock on their door and say, ‘I'm here on your front porch. Can you sign this for me?’” Johansen described.

Johansen’s predecessor was always eager to adopt new technologies in the pursuit of cutting-edge customer service, and Downeast first rolled out eSignature in 2015. After an introductory session with Docusign’s Professional Services team, getting up-to-speed was incredibly quick. In no time, agents were generating applications, renewal forms and compliance disclosures—sending them in tidy electronic packages to customers, and collecting completed documents within minutes. For Downeast, going digital greatly eased the burden of accommodating urgent policy requests.

Strolling past the Docusign booth at Applied Net 2019, Johansen was ecstatic to learn about a new integration with Applied Epic, Downeast’s cloud-based agency management system. As with the Docusign launch a few years earlier, the Applied Epic round trip integration was rapid and painless. “Within ten minutes we had access,” recalled Johansen. “It was super easy.” Now, new policy applications are sent directly to customers from within Applied Epic—with relevant documentation like disclosures automatically attached—keeping Downeast compliant. 

When COVID hit and we closed our doors, Docusign saved our lives. If it weren’t for the ability to get an electronic signature, we wouldn’t have written half the new business we did last year.
Stacy Johansen
Downeast Insurance

Turning a crisis into an opportunity to achieve lasting efficiencies

By the start of 2020, the integration of Docusign and Applied Epic had already netted Downeast tremendous gains in efficiency, yet the agency had not yet reached its full potential, as some customers still opted to sign and physically return paper forms to branch offices. That inertia was upended by the pandemic, and many of Downeast’s older and more tech-averse members suddenly began clamoring for touchless and remote ways of doing business. Fortunately, the agency was prepared, and at a fortuitous moment, too—when customers began buying boats and RVs to safely social distance. “April, May, June...those were some of our highest producing months in 2020—and it's because we could just Docusign everything,” said Johansen.

Johansen was inspired by the words of a CEO speaking at a virtual conference: Don’t waste the pandemic. She took the message to heart, working to build on the efficiencies gained through using digital tools like Docusign by firmly cementing these new ways of doing business as ‘the new normal.’ “We actually restructured the entire agency—just with some process improvements,” Johansen said. “The effectiveness and efficiency has been huge. We can do more business now because we have the manpower to do it.”

Charting a course for the future

As Johansen looks to 2022 and beyond, she knows that Downeast has only scratched the surface of Docusign’s capabilities. She’s already eyeing PowerForms as a way to channel prospective customers from the agency’s website directly into an automated, Docusign-powered sales process. And she’s enthusiastic about the solutions she hasn’t discovered yet. “I know there are all kinds of other things that Docusign is capable of. We're not quite there yet, but I’m super excited to get there.”