Q & A – Is it legal to accept e-signatures for health and welfare benefits documents?

Q: Is it legal to accept e-signatures for health and welfare benefits documents?

A: While it is legal to accept either written or electronic signatures for open enrollment materials and benefit applications, COBRA notices and HIPAA Certificates of Creditable Coverage documents are specifically excepted, they still need to be hand signed to be valid.

The E-Sign Act does not permit notice of cancellation or termination of health insurance or benefits via electronic means.  Because the law does not specifically address health plans, pension plans, and other types of documents that affect HR, employer should check with counsel before proceeding with electronic signatures on any documents.