for February 2019
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
Table Ratings Are Closer
But Not Quite There
As background for Canadian subscribers, the same Windows software that we use in Canada is also used in the United States. However, there are differences depending on the market. In Canada we ask which province you are quoting in, in the U.S. we ask which state. In Canada you have Joint-Life and Critical Illness quotes, in the U.S. those options are hidden on the menu.
In the U.S. joint life first-to-die term is virtually non-existent. Survivorship permanent (joint life last-do-die) is unbearable to quote. American life companies do not solve for a joint age, they actually require storage of huge volumes of rate data to encompass all the various sex, smoking and health class combinations. For each of those combinations there are different tables of rates which are blended meaning they not the same as the single life rates. It is mountains of data and we are not equipped to handle or maintain it.
In the U.S. there are hints of interest in Critical Illness, but most of it is sold as a varation of life insurance (called Living Benefits Life) and coverages are limited and narrow to what will kill you in short order.
Overall, Americans tend to be less likely to buy insurance of any kind, versus Canadians. Products that are not mainstream are of much less interest. Combine that with the fact that Americans agents are quite busy selling health insurance products, something that Canadian agents can't sell, and there just isn't the demands for these quoting options in our software.
In the U.S. a significant number of American customers have asked for the ability to do Table Rated quotes. You can read some of those requests among the comments here:
Most of the Capterra reviews for Compulife are from American customers, only a couple from Canadians. Canadians are much more shy than Americans.
So far Canadian customers have been quite quiet on the subject of table ratings. Canadian life insurance companies have been stone cold in their interest. We experienced the same interest from Canadian life insurance companies when we proposed that they give us their application forms for our forms library. We have over 20 such companies in our U.S. forms library, zilch for Canada. We do use that forms library for CI specimen policies, but that's the extent of it.
Clearly we would need the help of Canadian life insurance companies to introduce the Table Rating option in Canada. It will be up to them and it will be up to you as to whether you can convince them to be of help. Otherwise the feature will not be offered in Canada.
Initially, after we introduce the new Windows program, the option will appear on the Canadian menu but the button will be a grayed out and won't work. It will look like the Compulife Batch Analyzer button. If after the button shows up on your menu interest is expressed in having the table ratings for Canada, we'll follow through on it. If the silence continues to echo that after a few months we'll simply remove the button for Canada.
The same will be true for the Batch Analyzer. So far we have had no Canadian company express interest in the option although we have sold the option to a number of U.S. life insurance companies. Eventually, if no Canadian life insurance company wants to buy the Batch Analyzer, we'll just remove that button from the Canadian Red Menu.
The balance of this bulletin is what we talked about this month in the U.S. It will be up to you if it applies for Canada.
For the most part the Table Ratings development is finished, but we are still finding and repairing bugs; many bugs. Introducing the new feature illuminated some areas where our computer programming could be reorganized, simplified and improved so this was one of those one step back in order to take two steps forward. As with any major reorganization of computer code, even more bugs are created including in the areas that were working fine before.
After 37 years of working with computer software it's just part of the evolution of our product.
I am fairly certain that we will begin to offer the newest windows version of the software, with the Table Ratings feature, during February. I had originally hoped January, but we just weren't there yet.
To review, the initial offering will be introduced by way of a "special update" whose location on the internet will appear at the top of the regular midmonth update bulletin. Those who want to try it first will be given the web address which will allow a manual download of the new Table Ratings version of the program.
That manual update will be special midmonth update slightly newer than the most recent midmonth update, but will then be older than any newer midmonth update that we put on the site for all subscribers. In the event of a serious bug, the fall back position for those customers who need to go back to the current Windows program, will be to get the monthly update (again) and then the latest automatic midmonth update. That will put them back to the oldest version of the software with the newest data files. We will keep this cycle up until we are certain the new Windows program with the Table Rating option is bullet proof.
We expect ONLY those customers keen on having the ability to quote table ratings to dive in first. Further, we expect to hear how they have found lots of issues. As is normally the case, if you are the FIRST to report an error with the system (data or program bug) you will receive a 10% coupon for your efforts. That is our way of tangibly thanking a subscriber who helps make Compulife better for everyone else.
How We Process and Check Product Changes
Our biggest problem will be that we do not use life company software to compare our quotes to the company's quotes. That may sound strange but we do provide companies with a special copy of our software, so that they can check upcoming product/rate changes that they have provided in advance of release.
In addition to that, we now have the new Compulife Batch Analyzer and for those companies that want it, we can provide large bulk samples of the new quotes in spreadsheet form. That will give any company who asks, dozens or thousands of premium examples to verify their new product premiums. Once again, this is up to the company who can request that form of test material.
NOTE: The batch analyzer will not output tabled rated premiums and we have no intention of doing so.
Generally there are VERY few errors with the entry of new rates. While the software we have developed for rate entry is a little more old fashioned than the much simpler to use software that we provide to customers, the data entry software is extremely reliable. That software has been used over and over for years and there are VERY few occasions where the addition or changes to products in our system require any change to the software programs themselves. For the most part our software sees all products as variations of the same, and so a new product is just one more variation and its function is controlled by time tested software; only the data changes.
We are also able to process LARGE volumes of data entry in a relatively short time. Many companies now give a month's notice for new rates but we typically can turn a rate change around in less than 24 hours. The only thing that slows us down is a very large data change for one company, or multiple companies sending us new rates in the same day (it happens now and then).
Because most product changes are simple data changes, and do not require software program changes, the accuracy of new products is very high. If we make a mistake it sticks out like a sore thumb. For example, I might inadvertently put a female table of rates where the males go, or a smoker table of rates where a non-smoker should be. But then ALL the premiums are wrong for that group of rates, and they look wrong and they are easy to fix. But even that sort of problem doesn't happen too often because of the way we put new rates over top of old rates. We actually can see the changes that have been made to rates and really big changes stick out. At that point you stop and re-examine to make sure it isn't your error.
Sometimes we are ignorant of product specifics because we were not told about them. Recently we had an issue with a company's maximum face amount for waiver premium. If a company has a waiver maximum of $6 million, and forgot to mention it to us, we may not set the waiver maximum. But eventually someone reports the error and we fix the problem, usually the same day. While that individual found a problem no one else ever saw it because it disappears the minute an update is processed.
Debugging the New Windows Program
Our number one concern, as we debug the new software that has the Table Rating option, is to make sure that the new Table Rating option has not screwed up the quotes for products that do not have table ratings. That is fairly easy to check given that we have the current version of the Windows program, which we can run and compare results against the new Table Rating version of the Windows program. It is bugs that have turned up there that have held up the release of the Table Rating feature to you.
Once the non-table rated quotes are working normally with the Table Rating version of the software, and once we have spot checked some table rated premiums to be certain that they appear to be correct, it will be time to let the horse out of the barn.
We have decided that the very first folks who will be asked to review the software will be the Home Offices for those companies who have given us instructions on how to calculate and quote their table premiums. We will invite them to give the software a try and spot check some premiums to see if they can find any obvious errors. We suspect that some of the methods of rounding may result in some discrepancies that will need further programming. We will give companies a week to report anything that they find.
On a side note, many of those companies won't have the time to look at it which is normal. For example, when companies give us new rates a month in advance, it's not because they think we need a month to put them in, it's because they want to review what we did and they think they will need most of the month to do it.
Once the Table Rating option is released to you, and available by manual midmonth update, the real meaningful testing will begin. In the beginning those of you trying the new Table Rating option will need to be highly skeptical of the quotes that it is producing. We strongly recommend that you get a quote from the company whose product you are recommending to your customer, and confirm that it is the same. If not, report it immediately and make sure you attach the company quote. Remember, if you are first to catch/report an error, it's worth a 10% coupon toward you next annual subscription of the Windows program.
In fact, after you use Compulife comparisons to narrow down your choice to a consumer, it is never a bad idea to produce a quote from the company's own illustration system, to confirm and check the premium. We are beginning to see some companies requiring that you do so in any regard. They want a signed illustration, even for term, when you are submitting an application. Never underestimate the volume of paperwork that companies require to process new business, or their delight in requiring even more paperwork. I remember years ago, when I sold insurance, that the entire application including the part 2 medical was 4 pages (2 sides of 2 pages).
How The Table Rating Option Will Work
The Table Rating quoting option will rely upon the same client entry screen that you use when quoting products without table ratings. We would strongly recommend that when you quote table ratings that you set the Health Category to Regular (aka Standard) and NOT quote Regular Plus or lower. After all, if you expect your client will be rated, you can also expect your client will NOT qualify for lower premiums than Regular.
The other reason you should do this is because you will be able to mix and match regular products, and different products with different tables in the same Pick 12 spreadsheet. If you think one company will issue standard, a different company a table 1 (if they have a table 1) and a different company a table 2, then you will be able to put all three side by side in Pick 12.
If you want to quote one company, and show their standard, table 2, table 3 and table 4 on the same page in Pick 12, you will be able to do that also.
However, if you change the health category in the client screen, part way through building one of those Pick 12 quotes, then Pick 12 will assume a new situation and reset the Pick 12 spreadsheet. Rather than adding products to an existing spreadsheet, you get to start over.
Those who currently want to show the Preferred Plus, Preferred, Standard Plus and Standard premiums for the same company/product, can do that now by entering the client as Preferred Plus. Then, when in the same comparison, filing each of those health categories into Pick 12.
TIP: If you didn't know you can do that, the way to make it easy to do is to find the first premium that you want to put into the spreadsheet. File that premium by right clicking. Then, while that product is still highlighted in the comparison, sort the comparison results by Company Name. You do that by clicking on the "Company Name" title at the very top of the company name column. The comparison will then be re-sorted and all the other health category premiums, for that particular product (and all others), will appear as a group under the lowest premium for that group. Groups (different premiums for the same product) stand out because the additional higher premiums appear below the first premium, and there is no company name or product name next to those additional premiums. That tells you they are health variations of the same product.
It should be noted that it won't matter if you told the program the client is preferred plus when you go to actually quote table ratings. The product and rate entries for table rated rates have no preferred premiums in them and will quote the same regardless of the preferred settings on the Client Entry screen.
How The Table Rating Option Will Work
Separate Button On the Red Menu
You do not use the "Compare Now" or "Display Product Comparison" button to quote Table Ratings. Those buttons will continue to be used to quote products without table ratings; that doesn't change (at all).
When you first see the new option it will appear as a new button on the Red Menu, right below "Display Product Comparison". When you click the Table Rating button you will be in the Table Rating comparison. The quote being produced will NOT be coming from the data files that are used to quote products without table ratings.
The first reason that these data files are separate is because many companies quote table ratings from unique tables, they don't just add a flat percentage (such as 25 or 50 percent) to the premium.
For example the first company whose products work that way, that has been added to our Table Rating database, is Guardian Life. In the case of Guardian they offer tables A, B, C, D, F, H, J, L and P for their term products. Unlike most companies' term product each of those tables have their own separate set of rates and each one of those sets of rates has nothing to do with the other. If you want to quote Table D, it is not a version of the company's standard non-smoking rates, it is quoted from its own unique set of Table D rates.
While most term product quote by adding percentages to their standard rates, most permanent products do not operate that way. We are actually glad that Guardian does it that way with they term products because it has helped us prep the system for the permanent products that we will be adding as we move forward.
NOTE: The initial table rating quotes will be for 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 year term.
When you click the Table Rating button a comparison window will appear that is much like the display product windows you are already used to. However, in the top right of the comparison header there is a new button indicating which table the quote is currently based upon. If it appears as Table 1 (A), and you want Table 3 (C), you simply click that button and switch to Table 3 (C). The quote will then re-display with Table 3 (C) premiums.
A new rejection message will appear for some products. The rejection will say TABLE. That means, if you were asking for Table 1 (A), and that company doesn't have a Table 1 premium, that company will not appear. We have give some thought to showing the next higher available table premium, and highlighting that result, but that will come later. Currently, the way you find out what is going on with a "Table" rejection message, is that you double click on that product which will they display the product in a single product window.
When you double click on a product in the Table Rating comparison that premium and renewal information is displayed, just as it does with the normal comparison window. But when an individual table rated quote is displayed, the old "Rate Class" button for that product, is replaced with a new "Table Rating" button. When you press that button, all the available tables, and premiums for those tables for that product, will be displayed on a menu. You can switch the quote in the individual screen to a different table for that product from there.
Initially Many Less Companies
In the beginning the number of companies in the table ratings option will be much less than what is in our system at large. Currently, these are the companies whose term plans will be in the system:
Banner Life Insurance Company
Cincinnati Life Insurance Company
Guardian Life Insurance Co of America
Midland National Life Insurance Company
Minnesota Life Insurance Company
North American Co for Life and Health
Pacific Life Insurance Company
Protective Life Insurance Company
Securian Life Insurance Company
Symetra Life Insurance Company
Transamerica Financial Life Insurance Co
Transamerica Life Insurance Company
United of Omaha Life Insurance Company
William Penn Life Insurance Co of NY
The reason these companies and not others will be in the first release is because the other companies in our system have yet to provide us with the information about how their tables ratings work, together with the tables and percentage that they use.
This will be the first area where subscribers can earn a 10% coupon. If you can convince a company who has yet to provide us with table rating information to do so, and you are the first to do it, you will get a 10% coupon.
Note: AGL and USL have given us that information but they have instructed us NOT to add their products until they are able to test them. Given the way that we are rolling out the new option, we think this is unnecessary but we are respecting their wishes; so they are on hold until we are ready to break out their products into test software.
Apart from that list there are dozens of companies that have not responded to our requests for table ratings information. If you are the first to get one of those other companies to provide us the information, you will receive a 10% coupon. If you get 3 companies to do so, you will get 3 coupons. Adding companies for term can go pretty quickly, because most term products are just percentages of existing rates we have in our system. They just need to be broken out into a version for the Table Rating database.
Permanent plans will take longer to enter, as there can be a LOT of new data to put in. Those will follow once the term products settle down.
What will be a sure sign that most people do not read these bulletins will be those phone calls from subscribers who, after they first try the Table Rating option, will ask, "Where is such and such a company?" At that point we will explain in the phone call what we have already set all that out in our bulletin. After we mention that we will be told by the subscriber that they don't have time to read bulletins.
Manage Product Database
The only function in Manage Product Database, that will impact Table Rating quotes, will be the "Select a Group of Companies" to quote. If you quote only a subset of our database, and use that option to pick your companies, then companies not on your list will not quote with table ratings.
Options like "enable/disable states" will NOT be available in the software. For the most part no one uses those options as Compulife does that entry for you. Further, the ability to modify state approvals from the software will be removed when we go to the new data structure, some time next year. The only way to get a state turned off or on is to have us do it.
The same will be true for getting lists of products. You can get lists of companies and/or products for the normal quotes, but you will not have those options with table ratings. To see which companies are available, run a Table Rating quote, double click on a single product, then in the single product window you can see all the companies by clicking on the company name and looking through the list in the drop down that appears.
One thing is for certain, we will not be quoting table ratings for products that we do not have the non-table ratings for.
NOTE to Internet Engine Customers: We have already announced that Compulife will have a way for you to access our table ratings data for your engine. Once we set you up with a batch system that will break the table ratings info into a separate table ratings folder, which makes it usable with the internet engine, you will be able to do all the listing you need using Manage Product database.
IMPORTANT for Internet Engine Customers: If YOU want table ratings, you will need to write the code to take that data in order to produce the correct quotes. We do NOT have time for that work at this point, and need to move on to more important items on our development schedule.
Our Current Plans for 2019
At some point Compulife will introduce table ratings into our "Compulife Basic" product but that will only follow the introduction of the Pick 12 option to Compulife Basic. That is the first, and next objective for that web based version of our software. As we have mentioned before, other than Windows PC software, there are just too many different operating systems competing for market share, for Compulife to chase each one. Long term you either have a Windows PC, the ability to run Windows PC software, or you will have to run Compulife Basic.
When the Pick 12 option is ready for Compulife Basic, that will also mark the introduction of a new version that we will be calling Compulife Basic Plus. Compulife Basic Plus will be sold at a higher price than Compulife Basic, which is currently available for $96 per year. Agents who ONLY buy Compulife Basic will be allowed to upgrade to Basic Plus. Those that don't want to upgrade will be able to continue to use the existing Compulife Basic which is a bargain at $96 per year.
Subscribers buying the Windows PC version of Compulife continue to receive Compulife Basic for FREE. If you don't have it, and would like to activate it, just call or email Compulife. Once it is available, Windows PC subscribers will also be upgraded (for FREE) to Compulife Basic Plus. We have no plans to change the prices for our PC product line.
Compulife Basic Plus will not be available until after 2019. There is a lot of work in front of that, and the current order for new work is:
Table Ratings in the Windows PC software
Upgrade Internet Engine to Introduce Internal Quote Volume Counters
Compulife API Web Quote Option
Overhaul Of Current Product Data Files
Introduction of New PC Version: CQS.EXE
Introduction of Compulife Basic Plus (with Pick 12)
Anyone with questions about any of these upcoming projects can call Bob Barney to discuss: (888) 798-3488. Please don't email me essay questions, just call. If I'm not in, email me your phone number, I'll call you.
These planned objectives will easily consume our programming time during 2019 and into 2020. The good news is that once the product data files have been converted, and we have introduced the new CQS.EXE, and upgraded our internet engine to use the new data files, Compulife will be turning it's full attention to our web based, Compulife Basic software. The long term goal is to have a web based product that does everything our PC based software does.