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Update News for July 2008
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 initial version of our Critical Illness comparison software was released in our June 21st midmonth update. That first release provided the products of two life insurance companies: AIG and Unity.
While a number of other companies have provided us rate material for adding their products to our system, a number are missing key information. Chief among things that we are missing are the PDF files for the respective company's sample/specimen policies. We should note that we do have sample/specimen policies for a third company, RBC, but we are waiting for some questions to be answered on how the company calculates premiums. As soon as we here back from RBC, those products will be released.
When it comes to comparing life insurance the coverage between policies is uniform which makes price comparisons very useful. This is much less true for Critical Illness where coverages differ between policies, and where the coverages are worded differently between policies. This is the reason why we consider sample/specimen policy documents so important for Critical Illness policies. Agents and their clients need to see in advance what it is that they are buying.
Compulife has no intention of commenting on what the differences between the wordings of these policies mean. As we have noted in previous bulletins, we lack the expertise of interpreting contract wordings. We have also heard enough from agents in the market to know that different companies cover different things differently. We have heard stories of policies that purport to cover certain risks, but which have limitations in those coverages. We have also heard stories of claims are being denied for things which the owner of the policy thought they had coverage.
Given all this, Compulife will not comment on or critique the differences between the specific coverages in different products. The ONLY information that Compulife will be providing about what each company's policy covers is the company's own specimen policy. And because of that, if a company does not provide use with a specimen policy, their premiums will not be available for quoting in Compulife.
As is the case for the expansion of our software into any new category of service, our subscribers play a key role in getting life companies to provide us with the data. When we first began offering our new forms technology in the U.S., it was very difficult to get the first handful of companies to provide us with their forms. But our U.S. subscribers lobbied and placed pressure on companies to help us. Slowly but surely companies provided their forms. We can assure you that it was much tougher to get the first 6 companies than it was to get the next 14.
The same will be true for Critical Illness policies. If you sell CI for a particular company, and you want that company in Compulife, please give us a call. We will identify our contact person with the company, who we have been trying to get assistance from, and give you a phone number so that you can call and talk to them. You can be very helpful by trying to persuade the company that you might be able to sell more of their product if it is in Compulife.
And while you're at it you might point out how convenient it would be if their application forms were available in Compulife. And keep reading, there is a free year of Compulife being offered to the agent/agency who helps us get the first company added to the forms library.
And in the midst of your conversations with the company, you can remind them that you can't imagine why they would not want to be in Compulife. After all, it costs a life company absolutely nothing to participate. What part of "free" advertising don't they get?
Critical Illness appears as a new button on the Red Master Menu, just below joint life. The symbol that is found on the button is a red-cross on a white background, which is the universal ambulance symbol. When you click on the Critical Illness button, a new yellow menu will appear.
The client information screen for Critical Illness will appear to the right of the yellow menu. You will note that the client information on that screen is the same as the life insurance client screen, except for the menu in the bottom left hand corner of that window. There you will find the four types of CI policies that you can quote:
These categories are arranged in order of relative cost. For example, a CI policy with none of the options shown, is the least expensive. If you add ROP on death, which returns premiums to the insured's beneficiary if there has been a death on a policy where no CI claim was made, the cost is obviously higher. However, ROP on death is generally a less expensive benefit than ROP where some or all of the premiums are returned to the policy holder if they decide to cancel the policy at some future point or keep it until the expiry date.
NOTE: In some examples there is the ability to buy ROP, or ROP plus ROP on death. If a company allows the purchase of both options, the two variations will be found in the CI with ROP category.
Also NOTE: We are aware that there are CI policies with life insurance but so far we have not been given the necessary information to quote those products at this time.
Once you enter the client information, and determine the type of CI that you want, the Display Product Comparison will give you the companies and premiums.
IMPORTANT: Compulife publishes a warning at the top of comparisons that appear on screen. The same warning appears at the bottom of CI comparisons. The warning alerts you and the consumer that there are differences in the coverages and conditions between CI policies. This has been your warning to read the warning.
In order to see what a company's policy covers you can retrieve a sample/specimen policy. To obtain a specimen policy, double left click on a product in the comparison. This will display the individual product in the Display Single Product window. There is a new button on that window which says "sample". If you click the sample button the specimen policy will be displayed.
The software used to retrieve specimen policies is Compulife's Forms library. If you have not used the forms library for a particular company before, and you likely won't have, the system will ask you to electronically sign that you are entitled to use that company's material.
IMPORTANT: The sample policies in Compulife are the property of each respective life insurance company and copyright laws apply. Further, when YOU AGREE that it is OK to use that material, and electronically sign to use the forms, you are saying you will not edit or alter those documents.
Once you have electronically signed the agreement for a company (you only have to do that once), the Forms software will download the specimen policy from our web server.
The next time you ask for the specimen, the system will check to see if you have requested that specimen before. If the specimen was previously requested, Compulife saved a copy into Compulife library of forms on your computer's hard disk drive. If your computer has a copy on hand, then the software checks to see if that version is still current. If it determines that you already have the newest version, then your computer will simply display the one that it has on file on your computer. Because it is displaying the copy from your computer, and not having to download it again from the web, this greatly speeds up the display of the document. Further, it means that you can be off-line (such as in your clients home with a laptop) and you can see the specimen policy without having to be connected to the Internet.
HINT: There is an option in the Forms Library to check all documents, and hit the "Download" button. This will make a copy of all forms on your computer. This is a good idea if you intend to be taking your computer off-line and still want to access the specimen policies.
All of this is kept track of using a forms library file that is routinely updated when you get rate updates from Compulife. If a new form or specimen policy is given to Compulife, which replaces a previous form, the new form is added to our master library and the date stamp in our records is changed. That will cue your computer to know that it needs the new copy the next time you ask for that form.
This forms retrieval technology was not originally designed to work with specimen policies, but as it turns out the technology made it very easy for us to add specimen policies as a new type of form.
Wouldn't it be nice if you had access to life company application forms as easily as you can get specimen policies?
The good news is that the technology is ready to go. The bad news is that we have not had one Canadian life insurance company provide us with forms to date - despite the fact that we have had 20 U.S. life companies participate in this program.
And it's even more remarkable when you consider that two of those U.S. companies are AIG and Transamerica.
So what's holding up the works? Where is the problem? I think it is fair to say that the silence of our Canadian subscribers is what is keeping this project from moving forward. We have told Canadian life companies what we want to do, but they are not hearing anything from their brokers. And if their brokers aren't saying anything, then they are assuming that the brokers don't care and if the brokers don't care then why should the companies care?
All we can say is that Compulife works very hard, and invests very hard to provide you with new features but some things require your assistance. It's up to you.
We have spoken with a handful of Canadian companies who have expressed interest in providing us with their forms but no one wants to be first.
With that in mind Compulife is offering a one year free subscription to the agent/agency who is able to convince the first company to provide Compulife with their application and service forms for our forms library. Second and third prize, for the second and third company, will be 6 free months of software.
HINT: We already told you that AIG and Transamerica have provided forms for Compulife's U.S. customers. It would seem that these two should be in the tank - it just requires someone to push them over the edge. Who wants a free year of Compulife?
Would you like the convenience of getting life company forms from Compulife? Our U.S. subscribers do.
At this point we have completed two projects for our Canadian software (Critical Illness and Life Company Forms) where the real completion of those projects requires missing data. While we are waiting for the data needed to make these features complete, we will be turning our programming efforts to other projects which have been waiting in the wings. Chief among these is the conversion and modification of some of our rate entry systems to take advantage of some improvements that we have been planning for a long time. Those changes will make the entry of rates, and the processing of data, even easier than it is currently. The changes will also lead to improvements in our software capability.
June was busy and we were unable to find the time to produce our first two tutorial. As we noted last month, we have now obtained the software and hardware that we need to begin offering on-line tutorials. This month we will develop and add two tutorials to our web sites. From the website you will be able to link to a Windows media program that will give you a multi-media tutorial combining video, computer image displays and voice instructions on how to use our software.
The concept will be based upon a two person audio track where Jeremiah and Bob will actually discuss the software and its use during the course of the tutorial. For those of you who have listened to director/producer audio tracks provided with many DVD versions of movies, you will understand how this will work. In our case, one will instruct the other, and you will see the instructions followed on screen. This will ensure that you get to hear and see how it is done and that we don't make any jumps you can't follow.
Tutorials will be short and topically arranged. For example, the first tutorial will be an audio visual presentation of the Dare to Compare Challenge, which is a training tutorial we use for first time users. Someone will actually be able to sit and watch us do that tutorial in the tutorial video. For many who are very inexperience with computer, this will be useful.
The next tutorial in Canada will explain how to use our Income Replacement Calculator. We think that function in the software is a hidden gem and can make it much easier to demonstrate why your client needs more insurance than they would otherwise purchase. Apart from buying the wrong types of insurance, we are convinced that the biggest problem in the market is that most people do not purchase enough life insurance, a mistake that is hard to correct after the insured is dead. The Income Replacement Calculator addresses the problem, and we'll show you how it is used and explain how to explain it to the consumer.