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Update News for June 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.
The following appeared in our mid-month update news. Please note, Standard Life has followed up with us after this bulletin was published and has advised that they are combining their PDF files into the single files that we require. Our thanks to Standard for making this effort.
Here is what we said in our midmonth bulletin:
You can get a FREE year of Compulife
A recent trial user of Compulife commented that they would like to purchase our software but there were a number of Critical Illness companies/products missing from our database.
We freely admit that we are aware of companies which have Critical Illness products that are not currently in our software. However, we would like to emphasize that we really, really, really want to add those products to our software.
If you can help us add a company, then you can earn a free year of Compulife for your help.
Here's something that needs to be emphasized in that regard. Compulife will only add a company's CI product(s) when we are able to obtain the sample/specimen policy(s) for the CI product(s).
As everyone knows or should know, no two life insurance companies use exactly the same legal contract language to describe their CI benefits and those benefits can be very different. That is why we insist that a sample policy be available to agents, and therefore available to their prospects/clients, so that those policies can be examined as part of the process of deciding which product/company to purchase.
Further, and very important, Compulife does not and WILL NOT modify specimen product PDF files. We want PDF files that are locked and which cannot be edited by ourselves or our subscribers.
For example, one life insurance company we would like to add is Standard Life. They have been kind enough to direct us to their web site where rate files and specimen policy documents can be found.
The problem is that the specimen policies documents for Standard Life are in parts and pieces. In order to examine a specimen policy you are required to print multiple PDF files. That is NOT what Compulife needs. We need a single PDF file, containing ALL the relevant pages for each variation of the CI product that is to appear in our software.
For example, in the case of ManuLife, there are 20 individual specimen policy documents to handle each of the 20 combinations of coverage and optional benefits available for quotation in Compulife. While it did require some effort on ManuLife's part, (thank you ManuLife!) each of those specimen contracts are available through our software.
For us to add Standard Life we will need Standard Life to assemble the various component PDF files into single files for each product variation that we are to quote.
Compulife WILL NOT DO THIS because these are Standard Life's legal documents; they are not our documents. We do NOT have the expertise to know which documents are in which policies and we do not want to make a mistake.
Further, combining PDF files into a single PDF file involves altering the original PDF files and we do not want to take the chance that we leave out something material to the policy contract.
At this point Standard Life is on hold until they can do some work for us, and provide us with the single PDF files that we need. When Standard Life can do so, we will quickly move forward with adding their CI product to our software.
If an agent is able to convince Standard Life to get this done, then that agent (and only the first agent to do so) will receive a FREE YEAR of Compulife.
To summarize, if you want more CI products/companies in our software, we are happy to compensate you with a free year of software if you can help convince the company to get us what we need to add those products.
As we promised in last month's bulletin, the newest version of the Windows program was released in May. Only a handful of minor bugs turned up. We think most of these have been addressed with one exception. A handful of customers do not like the fact that they cannot manually alter the width of the comparison results window.
As we have explained on the phone, the addition (or removal) of two new optional columns of information left us with the need to let the program dynamically set the width of the comparison window - meaning removal of the manual width setting. We are re-thinking how we have done that and hope to have a better solution sometime in mid June.
You can now have A.M. Best ratings appear next to the company name in the comparison results just as you see at www.term4sale.ca. A number of subscribers had commented that they would like a column of A.M. Best ratings to also appear in the Compulife comparison results in the windows version. That's now available.
To turn on the column go to "options" at the top of the Display Product Comparison window. The new option is: "Show A.M. Best Ratings". When you click and check that option the A.M. Best rating for each company will appear next to the company name in the Display Product Comparison window.
Previously you could obtain the annual OR a modal premium in comparisons. The new version of the windows program permits you to have BOTH the annual premium and a modal premium (of your choice) shown in the comparison results. For example, if you choose the option "Annual & Monthly" then the annual premium will appear followed by a new column with the monthly premium. You can sort the results, based upon either column, by clicking on the title bar of the column. Clicking on the title moves the dark blue highlight to that column, and the results are then sorted based upon the values in that column.
We think that the new option is of particular value in situations where a company does not offer a particular premium mode. For example, there are companies that do not offer a quarterly premium. If you do a comparison of just quarterly premiums that company would not appear. With the new options you can now do an Annual & Quarterly comparison. The company's annual premium will display and the shortform "N/A" (for not available) will appear in the quarterly column.
While work on our windows software has delayed this project, work on the new service for PDA/phones is almost done. 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 one web address that is your web address for doing quotes (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 a second web address that 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 building functions in the software that will report to us if multiple users are hitting these PDA web sites, and if it is determined that such is the case, then that subscriber's site will be taken down. Needless to say, if we do google searches and find links to these web sites, that will also cause them to be taken down.
If you want a public web site, that anyone case use, then you need to purchase our internet engine or talk to one of our authorized web providers (which is cheaper - as little as $99 per year). Those are the options we have provided for public web quoting and you can also set up PDA web quotes for multiple agents using those options.
Once the on-line, personalized PDA version of the software is up and running, the many improvements to the web engine, such as showing annual premium and monthly premiums at the same time, will be available in the web based software that is used for public web quoting. We have also added some new features for web quoting that we think you will like.
Once that is complete, those 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.
The 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.
We have decided to insert one more new function/feature into the Windows program before doing the major overhaul (read on). That new feature will allow the Windows program to obtain subscription renewal files automatically, rather than you having to run the RENEW.EXE installation program which we make available at your personalized subscription renewal page.
Currently, when a subscriber renews a subscription we email them a link to the subscription renewal page where they can install the renewal. However, we have problems with some who cannot run the RENEW.EXE program. The worst problem we have encountered is with Trend Micro anti-virus software, which an increasing number of people seem to be using. The problem with Trend Micro is that Trend Micro FALSELY REPORTS a virus in the RENEW.EXE program file. We have spoken to Trend Micro about this, a number of times, and the company seems incapable or unwilling to fix their software.
NOTE: No other anti-virus software reports a virus in the file. This is a Trend Micro problem (ONLY). We recommend that our subscribers select other virus software. We currently use two: ZoneAlarm Security Suite and PC Tools Spyware Guard with Anti-virus.
To get around the Trend Micro problem we end up having to run the RENEW.EXE file on behalf of the customer, place their personalized subscription files on our server, and have the subscriber download the files manually. Alternatively, we can zip the files and email them, although that can also run into problems with email programs that delete attachments. Needless to say, it's all a bit frustrating and VERY time consuming.
Therefore, we have come up with a design change that will allow the Windows program to obtain the subscription renewal file, in much the same way as it obtains the monthly and midmonth updates.
This function will ONLY work if you have not changed your licensee name and/or agent name at renewal. If you have done so, then the current method of emailing you your subscription renewal will have to be used.
For the vast majority of customers whose information has not changed, the new feature will kick in once you pay your subscription renewal. Your new subscription files will be transferred to your personalized subscription renewal page, just as they are now, and your Windows program will automatically download the subscription file when you run the program. Once the subscription file has been downloaded, and the information check and verified by our windows program, the new subscription files will be put in place of the old files, and you will have nothing else to do. Most will not even realize their subscription has been updated. We hope this makes it much easier for you and us.
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.