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Update News for April 2009
Here is a quick run-down on what you will find in this bulletin:
These topics will be dealt with in more detail throughout this bulletin.
Let me begin this section by underlining that it is Compulife's objective to quote ALL companies and products that we can get our hands on, which fit within the inventory of the types or categories of products that Compulife quotes. Compulife makes NO CHARGE to any life company to have its products in our system.
Having said that, over the past couple of months Compulife has made great strides to add more product categories to our software. Some subscribers have been quick to point out that we do not have all the companies who have products that fit into those categories.
Thanks for noticing - we already know that. Rest assured we want those products in our system and you can help us - read on.
The key to getting a company's product into Compulife is Compulife must be given the necessary information needed to include that product. While that may sound obvious, you should never make the assumption that a company wants to add its products to our service. After 27 years of doing this, let me assure you that it sometimes takes some persuading to get a company to provide us with their information.
As background, Compulife's existence in the market is a kind of love/hate relationship with life companies. On the one hand life insurance companies want agents to sell their products but NOT the products of other companies. They may say otherwise, but deep down inside life companies do not want to encourage their agent/brokers to use information resources that may send those agent/brokers up the street to place business with another company. If you think about it, that makes perfect sense. And if I was the president of a life insurance company, I would feel exactly the same.
On the other hand it costs a life company ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to have their products in Compulife. Compulife makes NO CHARGE whatsoever for adding a company and/or its products to our database. And given that having their products in our database means exposing the company and its products to literally thousands of agent/brokers, at NO CHARGE to the company, you have to wonder what part of "FREE ADVERTISING" a life company doesn't understand.
So on the one hand a company has reasons not to provide information to Compulife, and on the other hand they have very good reasons to provide that information. What tips the balance in favor of the company giving its information to Compulife? YOU DO - the agents, brokers and agencies who subscribe to Compulife. And you have much more power of persuasion than Compulife does.
If Compulife calls a company and says that we would like to have their product in Compulife, the life company will think "well of course you do". The request is immediately interpreted as self centered (of benefit only to Compulife) and companies are typically suspicious and cautious. While we can make a case for why it is in their interest to do so, it often is not convincing to the company.
On the other hand our subscribers are the people in the trenches selling the company's products. If you are a serious producer for a company, and you tell a life company that it is hurting your ability to sell their products because they are not in Compulife, or some of their products are missing from Compulife, then that is the MOST powerful point of persuasion to motivate a company to get us the material that we need to add their products to Compulife.
And your power of persuasion is particularly important for a product like Critical Illness Insurance. While most companies publish rate tables as they do with term life insurance, Compulife requires that the company provide us with sample policy contracts, for each of the four types of CI that we quote, for each category of product. That may require some additional effort on the company's part and so the company needs to understand it is important for you to have access to that information in our software. How will they know if you don't say anything? In another example we recently added 20 pay, 15 pay and 10 pay UL product comparisons, where the COI is a term to 100 guaranteed 20 pay, 15 pay or 10 pay respectively. In speaking with some companies about that, they seem unsure if our subscribers want or need those options. If you do, you need to let the company know.
To sum it up, if you want to see a product added to Compulife, please contact the company and tell them just how important it is to you to have that information available in Compulife. If they give you what sounds like a lame reason for not doing so, please let us know and we'll work with you to address any concern the company may have. And make sure that you drill home the fact that it is FREE for the company to have their products in Compulife. Feel free to use the argument I often make, "What part of FREE advertising do you not understand?"
And if you are a key reason why we are able to add a product to Compulife, we'll see that you receive tangible thanks by way of a discount coupon for your help.
Work on the new service for PDA/phones is coming along well. Essentially this service is a new web quoting option for subscribers and it is intended for the use of subscribers ONLY. The new web quoting capability is NOT designed to be a public quoting service, it is for individual subscriber use ONLY.
Currently Compulife has an early variation of this service running at:
If you have a PDA/phone that can surf the web, we would encourage you to check it out. When the new, upgraded service is available, the above link will cease offering quotes and will offer an application form that lets you apply to have a personalized PDA/phone version created just for you. Once you complete the brief application, Compulife will email you a link for your new PDA/phone quote system.
The difference between the generic service that is currently available, and what is coming, is that the new PDA/phone service will be personalized for each subscriber. You will have a web address that is your web address for your personal use - it is NOT intended to be a web site that you let other people use. The web pages and quote format are being specifically designed for the "small screen" of your PDA/phone. You will also have two web addresses for your PDA/phone. One web address will let you run quotes AND a second web address will let you select the companies that you want to include in your quotes. Once again, these addresses will be for your use ONLY.
We are also adding some new features and making some serious improvements to the look and feel. For example the new format will output both the annual and one modal premium side by side. That will let you display a comparison with BOTH the annual and monthly premium side by side. Important new changes like this have slowed us down a little in activating this new option but we think that they are improvements that you will want once you see them.
The other area of work involved in the new service are creation of some new management capabilities that make it easy to create these sites. Our goal, when you apply for the new feature, is to "click a button" in our database which will create your PDA/phone site and which will issue you an email with the links that you need to run and manage your new service. This level of automation is necessary because Compulife will be providing this new capability for FREE. As long as you are a subscriber to either a personal use subscription, or agency subscription to Compulife, you will be able to have on-line PDA/phone quotes at NO CHARGE.
Term4Sale customers will continue to have Palm PDA capability if they want portable quotes but personalized, on-line PDA/phone quotes will not be available.
The other area that we are automating is a database that keeps track of your use of these on-line quotes. We do not want you to share your personal PDA/phone web address with other agents - that is NOT what this new service will be about. Our new database capability will uncover such use. If Compulife discovers such activity we will simply "unplug" your PDA/phone web page.
Those wanting web quotes for consumers and agents at their websites will continue to have the existing option of purchasing our web quoting software for the public or using that software through one of our authorized web providers. That service has now been available for over 10 years.
In that regard you should know that the PDA/phone software will have more capability than the web version that we provide for public use on agent web sites. The PDA/phone version allows the ability to drill down on individual premiums, see renewal premiums and obtain more information. These capabilities make the PDA/phone version more robust than the public web version, and more like the capabilities of our Windows software.
Those differences will continue to exist for a simple reason. If Compulife were to provide a web version with all the capability that is in our Windows program, and that was put that on a web site, then other agents would have less reason to subscribe to Compulife. We are attempting to strike a balance between robust enough web quoting software that keeps the majority of our subscribers happy, but not so robust that it unduly hurts individual sales of our PC based software. We believe that it is in the mutual interest of our subscribers and Compulife that Compulife continue to be a profitable operation so that we are here to continue to serve you. So far we feel pretty good about the balance that we have struck.
Having noted that, a number of the improvements that we are making for the PDA/Phone service, such as showing annual premium and a modal premium, will be placed into our web based software that is used for public web quoting. These changes, together with our new categories, will be made available in the coming upgrade to our web software. Once that software has been implemented at www.term4sale.com, we will be making it available as a FREE upgrade to our current internet engine subscribers and to our authorized web providers.
That upgrade will be available with new documentation that highlights the changes and improvements and how they can be integrated into current web sites. We will let our Internet engine subscribers know when that is ready.
Once our work on the web engines and PDA/Phone software is complete, we will be turning our attention to some important maintenance work that is needed to the data entry systems. Those programs have not been updated for quite some time, and some need to be converted to take advantage of the newer programming compilers that we have been using for the Windows software that we already distribute to you. Our goal is to make it easier to program future software, which will ensure that we can roll out changes and improvements more efficiently.
Further, having reviewed where we are heading over the next few years, and the changes that we would like to be able to make in the future, we have decided to stop and do a much more extensive overhaul than simply changing our data entry software. We have determine that we would also like to implement a better data storage structure that will make maintenance easier on both a data entry basis, as well as a programming basis.
To achieve our goals in this regard, we will be spending a fair bit of time reviewing our new data storage needs, and then building conversion software that will convert our existing data files into our new data file structure. Once we have done that, we will then introducing new comparison software that does exactly what it does now, but which derives its results from the new data structure. In other words, you will end up with a new program that does exactly what the old program did/does.
Once this first stage is completed, we will have both old program and old data, with new program and new data. Moving forward we will use the old data entry systems to maintain the old version, then converting old data to the new data forms for general distribution.
The next stage is to create the new data entry systems that talk to the new data format. Once we are satisfied that the new data entry system give us everything that we have now, we will then switch to the new data structure alone. We will only do this once we have thoroughly tested the new software to ensure it gives us no problems in maintaining the date. This may take several months. As far as the part you use, by the time we make that transition, you will have been using the new software for several months.
The point of sharing this with you is that the process will be quite lengthy and so from this fall throughout most of 2009, you will not be seeing many changes and improvements to the software that you use, even though the underlying foundation will be going through a massive change. Once the foundation has been reconstructed, and all the tools to work on the foundation have been built, the program will be in a position to make some substantial moves forward.
Think of it as transplant surgery, where you need to keep the patient alive and well, at the same time as you are swapping out the organs.