Electronic signatures may be great in theory, but unless consumers are comfortable with the process of purchasing insurance online, the technology will not have any discernable impact.With that in mind, the Kansas City, Mo.-based National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is working diligently to come up with a protocol for Web site authentication that won't be too cumbersome and costly, but will provide consumers some peace of mind.

The NAIC has yet to decide whether a so-called "seal" program is either feasible or desirable in fulfilling the ultimate aim of providing the consumer with confidence in Internet transactions, says David Fogarty, a top legislative aide to Ohio Insurance Commissioner Lee Covington. (See "Will Consumers Sign On?" October.)

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