The acceptance of electronic signatures in commercial transactions has become so commonplace that there are relatively few disputes about their use. A Michigan appeals court recently considered the validity of an electronic signature where the issue was whether the signature on an online change of beneficiary of a life insurance policy was properly attributed to the decedent.
The former beneficiary argued that the insurance company had failed to affirmatively establish the efficacy of its security procedures with respect to the acceptance of electronic signatures, and that in essence a fraud had been committed by an imposter who actually opened the online account and requested the change in beneficiary.
The Michigan appeals court found that the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) does not require a showing of the efficacy of security procedures in order to establish the validity of an electronic signature, noting that attribution of an electronic signature may be shown “in any manner”. Additionally, the person who made the online change of beneficiary had numerous items of the policyholder’s personal information and notification was sent to the policy holder upon the change of beneficiary.
The court concluded that the insurance company had met its burden under Michigan law and UETA to establish its right to summary disposition of the issue of the validity of the signature.
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