Update News for September 2007
Here is a quick run-down on what you will find in this bulletin:
Help Us Add More Companies to the Forms Library
These topics will be dealt with in more detail throughout this bulletin.
During August we had two U.S. life insurance companies take a look at Compulife's forms technology. During the course of demonstrating the forms management software, we had questions and gave answers that we would like to share with everyone.
It is important to realize that Compulife is at a very flexible point in the development of our forms software. The data format is easy to manipulate and add to. This means that additional information about individual forms is a relatively simple change in the event we need to make it. For example, current forms listings do not include instructions for individual forms. We tend to think that the description of the form should be adequate but if there are those companies that need to add a few lines of comments or instructions, that is a change that can be made.
The current version of the forms retrieval software that we are demonstrating for life companies is the PC version that is integrated into Compulife. Once we have a commitment from a life company to move forward with using our forms software for the company's own distribution of forms, we will create a stand alone version of the PC software to retrieve forms. At the same time we will create a web based version of the forms retrieval software. Companies will have the option of using either method, although Compulife believes the PC based version, with local library capability, is the superior approach. Neither is difficult to do, because the technology simply needs to be broken out of the Compulife quoting program.
With regard to the stand alone PC based version, that software will automatically check for form library data file updates and will download those updates to ensure the PC version has the most current version. This is not part of the integrated version of the Compulife system because the form library data file is updated along with all the other update files that Compulife placed on the web.
One company that we demonstrated the software for wondered is we could create a more encrypted data file that an agent would not be able to edit or change. Our current forms.dat file is a simple text file that could be edited with a .TXT editor such as notepad or wordpad. That was done in order to allow simpler manipulation of data by Compulife and we saw no reason why any agent/user would want to or need to edit that file. Despite the fact we did not see a significant security issue, if this company wants or needs a more encrypted file it is a change that Compulife can make.
The company was VERY concerned about giving Compulife the forms and relying upon Compulife to keep the forms up-to-date on COMPULIFE's server. We indicated that we were prepared to work with the company to allow it full control over hosting and maintaining the forms on their servers, provided that Compulife subscribers would have access to those forms through our integrated forms retrieval software. This would simply require our program knowing which company forms, are available on which servers. This would require a small change to the software. Our only condition in adding such "security" is that it does not diminish the "convenience" which we are trying to provide our customers. What our customers want, and what we want to provide them, is a single portal for the retrieval of ANY of the company forms that they use. This assumes of course, that the agent is appointed by the company that they are obtaining the forms for.
NOTE: If Compulife receives a complaint from a company that an agent, not appointed by that company, uses a company's form, that is grounds for termination of our entire service to the agent. Please make certain you are appointed by a company before using their forms. In this regard there is an electronic signature for each company before you use their forms, attesting to the fact you are appointed by the company and entitled to use the forms.
Beyond these issues, we think it is absolutely important that companies realize that the forms technology which Compulife is offering to companies, gives a company complete independent control over their forms inventory. Forms can be hosted on ANY server that the company decides to place the forms on, and multiple servers (for backup service) can be implemented. Failure of one server does not prevent an agent from obtaining a form.
The continuing existence of Compulife is NOT necessary for a company using our forms technology. As I explained to one company, I use a DOS word processor called Wordstar. The version that I have and use daily is from 1985. The company that created that software is long since gone but that does not prevent me from continuing to use that software and generate documents for it. Further, all the documents that I create (the data files) are on MY COMPUTER. I do not require the existence of the manufacturer of that software to continue to use it and the same is true for Compulife's forms library software. Compulife's form library data files (forms listings and descriptions) will be on the life company's computers. Backup copies of everything will be on the company's own local PC or PCs. If the internet server or Compulife should fail to exist, ALL the program and data files are in the hands of the company and can be located on a different server ensuring smooth and continuing service.
To summarize, any life company that decides to use Compulife's FREE forms inventory and management software will have complete and independent control over that software.
In order to receive that forms software for FREE, all the company has to do is agree to allow Compulife access to that forms library in our software. Once again, we are prepared to work with the company to develop a level of security that satisfies the company.
Compulife is willing to work and assist life companies with entering and/or maintaining the data. For example, Compulife would be happy to do the inventory work and actually enter the forms into the database. We would be happy to then provide the company with a copy of the final forms library data file, which they could maintain from that point on, or could oversee Compulife's continued work on maintaining the form library. At any point the company wants to take over control of that ongoing work, they can.
At all times, the company can have a copy of our forms management software (that's the software used by Compulife or the company - NOT the retrieval software given to the agent). The company can also have a copy of our forms retrieval software - either local PC based or web based - and the company will be free to have anyone who uses their forms use that software.
It is up to the company how much work they do, or how much work Compulife does. The company can offload the cost of having a person do the work, and still know that if for some reason Compulife fails to do an adequate job, the company can assume responsibility for the data entry themselves.
Compulife is not an ISP (Internet Service Provider). Currently we rent space and have our own services provided through 8 different servers from 7 different ISP's. There are two reason for this.
First, we like to have complete redundancy in all our internet services. If a subscriber cannot get a monthly update from one of our servers, because for some reason that server has failed, or the Internet connection to that server has failed, our software can go to an alternate server provided by a completely different ISP. The chance that any 2 servers would fail at the same time is remote, and in many cases we have triple and quadruple redundancy for the same update services.
Second, renting server space from ISP's is cheap. The last server we signed up for cost us $79 for the year. That's too cheap for us to worry about having our own server or trying to make sure that our own server stays alive 24/7. And if the ISP doesn't deliver consistently we simply find another ISP. And we can depend on cheap servers because we are splitting the bandwidth between a number. No one server ends up with too much traffic which could create additional bandwidth costs or poor performance.
With Compulife's forms technology a life company will have exactly the same flexibility in hosting their forms. If they want to place the forms on their own server, and are confident that is ALL that is needed to deliver their forms to agents, the company can do that. If, like Compulife, the company wants to add additional servers and create redundancy, they can also do that. There is complete flexibility.
With the added information in the preceding paragraphs, Compulife would like to again provide you with the initial description of our FREE forms software for life companies. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call Bob Barney at (888) 798-3488.
Compulife is now offering FREE forms technology to any life insurance company that provides us with their forms - for FREE!
Compulife will give the life company our forms management technology for maintaining an inventory of the company forms. The forms entry and management software is easy to use and it runs on a local PC. The program creates and maintains an inventory of forms and allows you to easily categorize those forms any way they want. For companies already in our system, we can start them off by giving the current forms list that we have already created. The company can change or edit the file anyway the company wants, or the company can let Compulife do it for them. Either way - it's FREE.
The result is a forms library list in a small forms data file. That file will be what the retrieval software relies upon.
Compulife will also provide stand alone versions of our retrieval software for use on either (or both) the Internet and/or a PC. Just to be sure that we are making this clear, the company can have BOTH a PC based retrieval system AND/OR an internet based retrieval system.
Using the internet based software the company's agents can go to its web site and download any forms that they want. The forms can be on one or more servers as the company chooses. The servers will be servers that the company has or obtains (we typically pay about $100 per year for shared web servers) and the company can add as many servers as it likes or needs. Use of Compulife's technology does NOT depend on servers provided by Compulife. We think it is important for the company to have separate control over that.
For the agent it's pretty straightforward. The agent selects the state, the type of form that they want (from a category that you can create and maintain), and gets a list of forms. From the list they can download the forms that they want.
The PC based software is superior. That software allows the agent to access the company's forms library from their PC. Of course that happens with the Internet version anyway, because the agent must use a browser on a PC. But here's why the PC software is superior to a purely Internet version:
First, the PC software displays the forms list and lets the agent make selections without any Internet communication. This makes identifying and selecting forms really fast. Once the agent has checked off the forms, they are downloaded from the web (if they need to be - keep reading).
Second, if your agent needs the same form again, the PC retrieval program will have kept a hidden copy on the agent's computer. The form retrieval system will check to see if the form on file is still the current file on the forms list. Providing that there is not a newer version of the form, the PC version will retrieve the form from the agent's PC. That means no download - just an instantaneous retrieval of the form. That means this is really, really (did I emphasize really) FAST.
If the form is not the newest version, the PC version automatically goes and gets the newest version from the web and replaces the old one on the agent's PC.
As forms get bigger and bigger (fillable forms can sometimes exceed a megabyte) this saves time and bandwidth. It also means that your agent can have the forms on their laptop and even if they can't get access to the web in a remote location. The agent will be able to retrieve and print a form wherever they are.
Third, the PC version of Compulife's form retrieval will automatically search for updates of the form library (keeping the form data file current). If you place a newer version of the forms data file on your server, the software will automatically check to see if that file has changed (by downloading a 16 byte file). If the form data file has changed, the PC version will automatically download the new form file. Because the form data file is less than 100K, the download is quick.
The PC software can be provided as a stand alone program or as a linkable library which will allow your software provider to integrate it right into your illustration software.
Once you have the Compulife forms software (which we give you for free), you will have complete and independent control over your forms library and retrieval system. You can use multiple servers to host forms.
But most important, this software is FREE to any life company who is providing forms to Compulife.
In exchange, all Compulife wants is access to your forms library so that we can keep our own library up to date. Of course you don't have to use our FREEWARE, you could just use it internally or you can use it fully. The choice is the company's.
The only other condition for use and distribution is that you may not give the technology to third party entities, who then distribute the software as part of their multi-company forms service to agents. You can give them the forms retrieval system to let them obtain your forms, but they may not pass the technology on to their users as part of a multiple company retrieval system.
IMPORTANT: There is no restriction on your distribution of the software through your agents and agencies.
Some may say - "the software can't be any good if Compulife is giving it away". Please remember that Compulife will be giving you the same technology we provide to our subscribers, in software that those subscribers pay to use. We already have thousands of agents who prefer our product to the FREEWARE life companies hand out. So offering the forms software to a life company for FREE is a pretty good deal - don't you think?
During the writing of this bulletin one of the life companies sent me a new form. It was quick and easy to add that software to our library. Here were the steps I took, which a company would take to add a form using our software:
1. I saved the form into the form folder for that company
2. I started the forms management software and selected the company.
3. I clicked one button which checked the company's current list of forms against the forms in the folder. The software immediately found the new form and added it to the list.
4. I opened the form record up by double clicking on it.
5. I cut and pasted the description of the form from the company email.
6. I checked off the states that the form was approved in. The form was available in all states except NY so I just hit the "all states" button which checked all states, then turned off NY.
7. I then checked off the categories that the form was used for. This was from a list of categories I had previously defined.
8. I moved the form to the physical spot on the list where I wanted it to appear.
9. I closed the forms software which automatically updated my forms data file.
10. I uploaded the form from my PC to the server.
All in all, using the forms maintenance technology that we have created, this was about a 5 minute chore. The forms.dat file has then been transferred to our next internet update, and after that the update will be on our customers' machines.
If you have any questions about any of this, please call me (Bob Barney) at (888) 798-3488.
Compulife now has 2,500 forms in our U.S. forms library from 10 companies. We lost JP and JP of NY in August, when the companies were made redundant by Lincoln National. There is good news in that Transamerica Life has decided to provide us with their forms, which are being sent to us on CD. We will be adding Transamerica and Transamerica NY early in September.
The following are the companies whose forms are currently available:
Banner Life Insurance
Centrian Life Insurance
Pruco Life Insurance
Pruco Life Insurance of New Jersey
North American Company for L & H
Reliastar Life Insurance Company
Reliastar Life Insurance Company of NY
Savings Bank Life Insurance
Western Reserve Life Insurance
William Penn Life Insurance
During June we began to categorize a number of the forms in our software. When you display a forms list for a company, you now have a new drop down selection box to identify the type of form that you are looking for. Current categories are based upon type of products. When you select the category, the forms list is reduced to forms related to that type of product.
We suspect these new form categories will make it a lot easier to find the forms that you need.
We have just given life companies another great reason to provide their forms to Compulife. Our forms library "FREEWARE" makes it easy for a company to maintain their own forms on their web sites and in their illustration software. But companies may not pay attention unless somebody points it out to them. That's where you come in.
If you help us convince a life company to provide us with their forms, we'll give you a Palm Tungsten E PDA and a FREE year of Compulife as our way of saying thanks. Call for details - you must be key in influencing the company in order to claim the reward.
Compulife has made further changes to our health analyzer requiring another update to the Internet Engine. We expect this to be the last change for some time.
The change deals with age based driving records which we encountered after adding age based height/weight and family history records.
Compulife would be happy to send out the newest engine to anyone who wants it. If you are a current subscriber to the Internet engine, and want the newest engine, send Bob Barney an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make sure that when we send you the new internet engine package that you NOT DELETE the old engine from your system. RENAME the old program file, try the new one in its place, and confirm it is working before deleting the old engine. Don't be in a rush to delete your backup copy of the old engine.
Compulife incorporated in Canada in October 1982. That means we are now in our 25th year in business. The U.S. company was incorporated in October 1987 and the U.S. company is celebrating our 20th year in business.
We note this to first and foremost express our thanks to our loyal subscribers (thousands of subscribers) many of whom have been with us for a majority of that time. It goes without saying that we could not have done it without you. Many, many thanks.
THIS MONTH'S HIDDEN SPECIAL: Refer a new trial user to Compulife, and if they do the Dare to Compare Challenge, which gives them 4 months of free software, we'll double your normal referral fee credit from $10 to $20. This special offer is good until October 31, 2007.
CLICK HERE to refer someone for a 30 Day FREE Trial.
We are using these specials to help underline our longstanding commitment to this marketplace and our subscribers - a commitment that has never changed and a commitment that is as great today as it has ever been.
Two things are true about companies that have been around this long - they are either resting on their laurels or they are continuing to push forward aggressively. I think it is clear that the latter applies to Compulife.
Here are just three recent examples:
We have recently rolled out a Forms Library which introduces an innovative web library / local library system for automatically storing forms on your own computer - making retrieval fast and easy - regardless of web connection problems.
We have introduced QuickerQuoter for agencies, giving agencies our comparison technology (including PDA technology) which they can turn around and provide to their agents for FREE.
We draw this to your attention to underline that Compulife appreciates your business and we will continue to EARN your business, by improving and expanding our product offerings.