for September 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
Context For Our Canadian Customers
I am sorry to keep talking about what we have done for U.S. customers by way of Table Ratings, but all the programming work to enable table ratings in the U.S. does mean that we are ready, willing and able to offer that same new feature for Canadian subscribers. The problem to date is simple, NOT ONE Canadian company has given us the necessary information so that we can quote table ratings for their Canadian products.
Typically, in the U.S., companies offer up to 16 different tables either by number or letter. Table 4 (or D) is usually 4 times whatever percentage is added to the standard premium (less the policy fee). Most companies in the U.S. use 25% per table, meaning a Table 4 (D) is the premium, minus the policy fee, times 4 X 25% added to that same basic premium, and then the policy fee is added back. Of course those percentages are not all the same, and not all companies offer all tables. So, to quote accurately we need to know which tables the company offers, and what percentages they use. Once again, NOT one Canadian company has provided this information to date; sad really.
In the meantime, with the work on the Table Ratings complete, we are turning our attention back to the API project which we discuss following the Table Rating information that follows. The API option will be rolled out first in the U.S., and once up and running properly, will then be duplicated for our Canadian customers. Those of you offering website quotes will want to read about what is coming.
Compulife Basic (U.S.) NOW offers Table Ratings
Compulife's internet engine has now been updated so that It can produce Table Rated quotes. As we promised, the first place that Table Rated quotes became available was in Compulife Basic.
During August each customer's version of Compulife Basic was upgraded and is now able to produce table rated quotes.
Compulife Basic is the web based version of Compulife that EVERY Compulife subscriber has. Actually, it is the minimum subscription required to buy anything from Compulife. Your version of Compulife Basic can be personalized. There is a control panel where you pick which companies you have.
NOTE: If you are a Windows PC subscriber to Compulife then Compulife Basic is available FREE as part of your subscription. If you have not used it before, you can actually access it from the Red Menu of your Windows software. Look down the menu for the second last big button titled: Compulife Mobile Quotes. When you click on that you will get a menu and the second option is "Compulife Mobile (On Web)". When you click on that your Compulife Basic will appear in your default browser. Email that link to your phone or tablet, and save that page as a favorite.
Alternatively, let us know and we'll send you the links for your Basic which runs from your personalized account. Once again, you have a control panel where you pick the companies you want to include in your quotes. You can also access that control Panel from the "Compulife Mobile Quotes" button on your Windows Red Menu.
To access a Table Rated quote in Compulife Basic you simply choose the table from the expanded list of health classes on the client entry screen. When you click the down button for the Health Category you will get a list that looks like this:
Table 1 (A)
Table 2 (B)
Table 3 (C)
Table 4 (D)
Table 5 (E)
Table 6 (F)
Table 7 (G)
Table 8 (H)
Table 9 (I)
Table 10 (J)
Table 11 (K)
Table 12 (L)
Table 13 (M)
Table 14 (N)
Table 15 (O)
Table 16 (P)
Why Compulife Basic?
So what's the big deal about Compulife Basic? Compulife Basic (formerly called Compulife Mobile) is a web based quoting option for use by a Compulife subscriber. We changed the name from "Mobile" when we offered the product as a stand-a-lone product. It will run on desktops as well as mobile devices.
Compulife Basic is NOT for use with your website. Basic is password protected and has a restricted number of users/devices. The Compulife Web Quote Option is what we can provide for website quoting, no passwords and no quoting limits.
Compulife Basic has a lot of features that we do not provide with our web quote option. Compulife Basic has the ability to:
"drill down" for individual company/product quotes.
use the Preferred Health Analyzer
We don't want everyone to have access to those features for free. It is also worth noting those features are of no consequence for consumer use, and would only complicate a consumer quoting tool.
Because Compulife Basic is web based, it will run on ANY device or computer regardless of whether that device has a Windows OS (Operating System). Compulife Basic runs on Windows OS, Apple OS, Linux OS, Android OS, ANY device as long as it has a browser and an internet connection.
Compulife Basic is RESPONSIVE. It adapts to the screen space available and displays quotes in the screen space available. We think it looks good, better than that, it looks great particularly on smaller sceens like phones.
And once again, if you have the PC version of Compulife, Compulife Basic is FREE with that subscription.
Table Ratings For The Web Quoter
Table ratings are available as an "option" for the Compulife web quote product. If you have a Standard License to Compulife ($300 per year) and you want to add Table Ratings to your Web Quote option, it's an additional $48 per year (prorated to your current anniversary). If you have a Personal Use License to Compulife ($180 per year) and you want to add Table Ratings to your Web Quote option, it's an additional $96 per year (pro-rated to your current anniversary). If you only have Compulife Basic and web quotes, you would need to upgrade to a Windows PC product to be able to buy the Table Ratings option for your Web Quotes.
NOTE: It should ONLY be agencies who provide web quotes for their agents that need Table Ratings for web quotes. If you are an agency, giving quotes to other agents, you should have a Standard License ($300) which means your option to add Table Ratings is only $48 per year. If your site targets consumers we cannot possibly comprehend why you would want to add Table Ratings to your web quotes. The typical consumer has no idea what that means.
Table Ratings For The Internet Engine
Internet engine subscribers can obtain Table Ratings by upgrading to the new engine - it's a FREE update. Send an email to email@example.com to request the newest engine.
The new Internet Engine is a plug and play update with ONE EXCEPTION. The new engine has a quote counter mechanism that records quotes by user on your server and you will need to identify to the engine the read/write location on that server where those files will be located. Once you do that, the new engine will work properly. More on that follows.
Once you have the counter issue addressed, to add Table Ratings you simply expand the health categories as needed (instructions about that will be included). No other changes are needed. Apart from the client entry page, all of your existing template files will display the Table information automatically.
If you don't need the Table Ratings, there is no need to upgrade the Internet Engine.
Internet Engine Counters
IMPORTANT: Internet Engine counters are recorded on your server, not ours. You periodically will send the counter files to us by downloading and emailing them to us. As always, the Internet Engine is autonomous on your server and does not communicate back to Compulife. We will let you know when we want your counter files.
NOTE: Do NOT edit your counter files. They are .CSV text files, you can look at them, but do NOT change them. The counter files contain a checksum at the end. Changing one character in the file will require a new checksum. If you send us a counter file that has been modified we will know. If you edit a counter file on your server, and attempt to use it again, the system will detect a problem with the checksum and resolve the issue by starting the counter file from scratch. The precautions are to ensure we get accurate count records.
Eventually, our "degrade function" which discourages piracy of our data through the use of robots on the internet, will eventually be modified to work with the counter files. Eventually the program will relax it's degrade function when a legitimate counter has accumulated several days of counts, whereas it will tighten when a counter is new and has not accumulated records for a number of days. For those of you who have encountered issues with our degrade function, this is intended to be a permanent repair, but we will be needing counters to accomplish it.
Until now we have had no internal mechanism for keeping track of the volume of quotes being done by any copy of our internet engine. That change with this newest version of the internet engine, which creates and maintains counters to track use on a "USER" basis and on a total basis. Counters are saved on the server that is running the quotes and will not be accessible to any third party providing you locate them correctly. Periodically internet engine customers will be asked to provide copies of their counter files as a reporting mechanism which is required by their user license. The files can be downloaded and emailed, Compulife will not need access to the customer's server and the internet engine does NOT communicate with Compulife in any way.
IMPORTANT: The only thing we will be doing is counting the number of quotes. There will be no information about those quotes included in the counter files. They will tell us how many quotes have been done on a daily and monthly basis, and give us numbers by user for applications of our software that have multiple users.
One example of a multi-user installation of our Internet Engine is the web quote option that we sell for $96 per year. Each of our hundreds of web quote customers are running quotes from the same server and version of our engine. Differences between those quoting options are defined by what is in the "USER" folder for that customer. Each customer has their own control panel which allows them to decide which companies are quoted for their version of the web quotes. That information is stored in their USER folder.
Up until now, we have not had a mechanism to determine how many quotes any one of those users is producing on a daily basis. With the new engine we will be able to do that, and to monitor total quotes per day across all users. This will be important as quote volume will be tied to pricing for our new API option, and once the API option has been rolled out and is available, quote volume pricing will come to the Internet Engine.
Full Steam Ahead on the API Option
Now that the programming for Table Ratings is wrapped up, we are moving forward with the new API option. API is short for "Application Programming Interface". In short that means having a way to talk or communicate with a computer program/database that is running on an Internet server.
I have to blow our own horn on this. For the last 20 years Compulife has been doing that. The Compulife Internet Engine is a CGI executable (program/App) version of our software that is available for either Linux or Windows servers. CGI is short for "Common Gateway Interface" and is itself an earlier version of an API.
That is what the Compulife's new API will be, a json interface. It will be a way for you to connect to our 20 year old Internet Engine, using the more modern json method to send and receive data. Is that better than the older CGI method? We don't think so but it seems to be the way most people want information sent and delivered. Our new API option will accomodate that.
One big difference between our Internet Engine and the API is where the Internet Engine and database is actually located. Currently, subscribers to the Internet Engine place it on their own server(s). In the case of the new API option, the Internet Engine and database will be on Compulife's server and API customers will communicate with it there. That's good news and bad news.
The good news is that because the Internet Engine will be on Compulife's server, we do all the updating. When rates change, we update the data files on the Internet for you. Those who currently use the Internet Engine have to take the Windows PC files (the product and rate data), after they have been updated on the PC, and tranfer those files to their server. Further, if there is a newer version of the Internet Engine, the Internet Engine customer must place that program on their server. With the API, if we change the Internet Engine, we update that to our server for you. You have nothing to do in regard to program and data updates.
Doing these updates is a big issue for some customers. Either they forget to do it, or have trouble remembering how to do it. As the person who does it for all of our various servers, it's just part of the routine and really takes very little time. By comparison to keeping products and rates updated, it's a breeze. Those who want us to do that for them, and still want to control look, feel and functionality of the quotes on their site, will be able to do so with the API option.
NOTE: If you currently use our web quote option (the $96 per year version) then you already benefit from Compulife doing all that updating work for you.
The bad news with the API is that the Internet Engine is on our server. That means you have no control over what we do with it, and you can't know what we are doing with it. For example, with the API, everytime you communicate with the engine, to provide quoting information, we could be recording what you sent us and what we sent back to you.
Now before anyone panics, WE DO NOT DO THAT. When I say that you can trust Compulife, that we are not pirating your quoting information, we can back that up with a 37 year reputation of NEVER having done such a thing. By contrast, there are others on the internet offering services, and we don't know what they are doing. And yes, you don't know either. It's a "trust me" situation. We believe you can trust Compulife.
Consider a similar EXAMPLE: Most Compulife subscribers now pay their Compulife invoices by credit card. Many people who take your credit card information on-line keep a record of your credit card information. Compulife does not do that. No one can steal your credit card info from Compulife because we do not have it, we do not keep any record of it. When you pay your Compulife invoice, you are actually entering the credit card info into our bank's software and website. All we get from the bank is confirmation of the amount you paid, and what invoice you paid.
Our longstanding policy with respect to any quoting information submitted to our quoting software is that it is NOT recorded. There is no history or record of quotes being created.
But TRUST is not an issue if you use the Internet engine on your own server. You run it autonomously on your own server. There is nothing in the software that "phones home" and so you can be absolutely certain we aren't accessing your data, and you can also be certain that the only way that anyone else can access your data is if they steal it from your server. In short, it is the most secure way to use our Internet technology. If security is an issue, Compulife's Internet Engine is the ONLY full proof solution.
Once again, we will maintain the same privacy standards with our API, but you will have to "trust us". With the Internet Engine, there is nothing to trust.
Given all that, we still fully expect that some Internet Engine customers will move to the new API option as it will elminate the need to update the software and data files. Further, it could save you money depending on the volume of quotes that you do. Most important, the new API will still allow you to fully customize your user's experience and functionality, just as the Internet Engine option allows you to do now. The big difference is that the engine will be on our server and you will be getting raw output that you then format on your server.
And with respect to web quote customers, because the API costs less than the Internet Engine, and allows full customization, we expect a number of web quote users to upgrade from the $96 product to the API. Pricing will be attractive unless you are doing thousands and thousands of quotes per month. But then if you are doing thousands of quotes per month, pricing won't be that big a deal.
The API service will be volume based. Here's a tentative pricing schedule:
1,200 or less quotes per month - $396 per year (includes Compulife Basic
6,000 or less quotes per month - $780 per year (includes Compulife Personal Use)
30,000 or less quotes per month - $1,200 per year (includes Compulife Standard Use)
All of these prices are less than the current cost of the Internet Engine, which is $1,500 per year (including Compulife Standard Use). The price for the engine will remain the same for customers doing 60,000 or less quotes per month. Any customer doing over 60,000 quotes per month will have the price of the Internet Engine increased to $2,200 per year (in addition to their Standard License of $300).
Some current subscribers to the Internet Engine, who are doing smaller volumes of quotes, will probably want to switch to the new API version of the software because their volume is relatively low and they will save money with the API version of quotes. The API customer will still be able to produce the very same quotes that they are producing now and still be able to fully customize their user interface and quote functions. Instead of delivering pages to the customer's website, the API delivers raw output: company information and premiums. The user takes that data and imbeds it into their web pages and systems.
The other advantage of the API over the Internet Engine is that Compulife will take over the updating of rates and software, which means the user has less maintenance. The downside is that quotes will be coming from our server, and if our server goes down, so do your quotes. Having said that, reliability seems high. We have not had many issues with the web quote option for customers, and so we hope the same is true for the API (I should add that I don't trust the internet).
Those doing over 30,000 quotes per month will need to buy the Internet Engine. First, we don't want their high volume use dragging down our server performance. Second, anyone doing that kind of volume needs to pay for the server that they are running the quoting software from, and depending on volume they can get whatever type of server service they want/need, from shared hosting to stand alone equipment.
Our Current Programming Plans for 2019
The following is the current order for new work that we will be doing in 2019/2020:
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:
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.