for June 2016
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
Canadian Changes Completed
We have now completed the final leg in the Canadian changes and Canadian subscribers now have access to the new "responsive" web quoting option for their website quotes.
IMPORTANT: The upgrade to a responsive quote system is FREE. However, the upgrade is NOT automatic as some customers would rather not have to change/modify their website.
If you are NOT using the new responsive site, which looks like this:
and is available in these colors:
then you need to request that FREE upgrade by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Did I remember to mention that this important upgrade is FREE
It Is Why It Is A Subscription
Every day I still use a software program called Wordstar, which I first purchased over 30 years ago. I bought the latest DOS copy of that software in 1987. I had actually been using Wordstar for about 5 years, having bought a copy for CP/M; a pre-DOS operating system. Yep, I'm still running the DOS copy and it evern runs in Windows 10 just as Compulife does. Needless to say I don't need upgrades to Wordstar to be able to continue to benefit from what that software does for me.
Some will think that makes me a dinosaur but for those who do you need to read this article which I found after I wrote that paragraph:
US military uses 8-inch floppy disks to coordinate nuclear force operations
Compulife never provided software on 8" disks. We looked into it at the time but decided 8" was on the way out and that we should focus on the latest 5 1/4" technology. As a side note to the military, we would suggest upgrading to the 3 1/2" disks. Much more convenient. Also, I have a number of used diskettes for sale (5 1/4" and 3 1/2"). Get'em while they're hot.
All this to say that Compulife wouldn't be much good without updates as the companies and products that we quote change over time. This necessitates updating. But one of the things our subscribers tend to forget is that they are also buying a program that is being changed, enhanced, expanded and improved over time. The pace of software change is slow by comparison to other more commonly used programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel, but changes are constantly in the works. Part of your subscription fees fund those ongoing improvements. That is why we don't have software upgrades where we charge you additional money; you are paying for it already. That is why the new, improved web quote options are a free upgrade for those buying that option/service.
Some of the software improvements that we make are obvious (like the web quote option) but some are not obvious. The improvements we are now back to working on will be NOT obvious for a few months.
We are currently working on the restructuring of our data files, to take advantage of the larger memory and faster performance of modern computers. It is worth reminding folks that some of our technology was written to accommodate older slow computers (by comparison to modern machines) and slower disk drives with limited storage. Our first DOS software required two floppy disk drives, not one, and a second floppy disk drive was a $700 upgrade. Our first DOS software required 256K of internal memory, a $600 upgrade from the standard 64K memory that came with the computer. Times have changed and we have been changing with them, but some of the technology we are using can be greatly enhanced by overhauling some parts of the software code which is what we are doing.
The core software of Compulife is quite complex, we call it the internet engine. Some components of the software are what you see, but what you don't see, which looks up rates and calculates premiums, can get really complicated because there are so many options and variables that must be accounted for. The simpler we make that software, the easier it is to enhance with new capabilities.
The need for improvement does not mean that Compulife is antiquated. Anyone using the software will note that Compulife is FAST, lightening fast. Why? It was written to run on slow equipment. The software code is tight and economic, making quotations instantaneous. But there are things that we can do more easily, which will not be as tight and economic, but which will have no discernible impact on performance. What those changes will do is make it easier to adapt and enhance the software for the future.
One thing I have heard a lot about lately is the need to improve our table ratings quote option. There is a way to do table ratings now, and you can watch the video here:
Table Ratings Video
But many subscribers would like the system to remember the percentages which are used to calculate the table ratings for various companies and products. After lengthy consideration, I have determined there is a way it can be done in conjunction with our current mechanism. However, we are going to delay introducing that new feature until some of the infrastructure changes are complete.
Keeping the data in Compulife up-to-date and current is job one. No subscriber cares about whether Compulife was up-to-date yesterday, last week or last month. When a subscriber produces a quote for a consumer, and that quote is wrong, the subscriber is mad, I mean they are downright angry.
I deal with a couple of angry calls per week, from someone that is reporting an in Compulife. Fortunately, most of those calls are due to "pilot error". The most typical error is a subscriber quoting a male, having actually entered a female (or visa versa). Another typical issue is the subscriber who neglected to update the software and the rates for one of their favorite company/products changed, and they didn't realize it. Such issues occur routinely and all we can do is get to the bottom of it and explain what happened to the subscriber. They end up less angry but are never completely happy having given a wrong premium quote to a consumer.
Maintenance Is Job One
Back to the subject of keeping Compulife's software up-to-date. That remains our primary objective.
Each time we add a new element to our service, such as life company forms, it means that we are also adding a new area where information must be stored, and more important, kept up-to-date. It is pointless to offer information that is out-of-date. Often, when we build a new system such as the life company forms library, you are looking at the tip of the iceberg. The software that we need to develop, to store and maintain data, software that you don't see, often requires more time and energy than the final software that lets you retrieve the date.
If the effort to build high quality data entry software is not made, then eventually maintenance and keeping the software up-to-date deteriorates and suffers. Introducing a feature without a well designed mechanism to keep it up-to-date is a recipe for failure.
With that said our emphasis has now shifted to restructuring our product and rate data storage system. Work has progressed well, having successfully introduced that new structure for ROP factors. The new data structure used for ROP factors is the same date structure we will be using for the main products.
Currently we are working on an improved mechanism for renewal premium storage and retrieval, where renewal premiums are common among various products. We hope to have that completed in the next month, work is progressing well. Once that is completed, there will initially be a significant shrinkage in the size of our renewable term data files. Once the restructuring of all the product data is complete, those data files will marginally expand in size. However, that new structure will make it much easier for our program to retrieve and process the data. In the end you will see little if any change to the speed of the quotes and comparisons but we will have a much better platform upon which to build the next generation of features.
Electronic Applications For Web Quote Software
We routinely get requests and questions not unlike this email from a prospective customer:
Our goal is a client site so our PandC clients can go to it for needs analysis, health rating, product quote. We would like to collect the input data. Can the client actually apply online? [emphasis added mine]
Many agents would like to have an on-line application system added to their website quoting option, and we have not offered it for some pretty important reasons:
1. We are not aware of any life insurance company that has an on-line application, permitting electronic signatures, that is willing to permit us to connect that application to our web quoting software. We have had recent discussions with one life insurance company who has expressed an interest in doing this, and if we are able to get that company to allow us to add their application to our system (actually integrating our system to their application on their server) it is a project that we are prepared to invest in. We think if one company does it with Compulife, then others will follow. The problem is getting the first one in the door. If you can get to that point, and convince a couple more to follow, then the rest will come along. That's how the traditional forms library got started. In the beginning most companies said no when we asked for their forms.
2. We are NOT going to create a generic application form. The actual questions that appear on life insurance applications are carefully and legally worded, and no one should substitute a question and answer from one form, to another form that did not ask the very same question the very same way. The questions and answers on an application form are the basis for a life company to REFUSE to pay a claim. If the company believes the insured failed to answer the question truthfully, they have every right to deny payment of the claim (in the first 2 years). If the answer to a generic question was answered truthfully, and that answer was then used for a question that was asked differently, then the parties involved in the transposition of that information are in for a world of legal exposure if a lawsuit results. Compulife doesn't generate enough revenue from our activities to defend against a lawsuit brought in that situation.
3. We think it is a mistake to believe that a life insurance quoting system on a website, should be a "life insurance vending machine" where the consumer fills in an application in order to buy a life insurance on their own. First, the majority of consumers are not going to do it. Second, if consumers did do it, life insurance companies would be able to get rid of life insurance agents and have their own "direct to the consumer" insurance selling platforms. Some are already trying it, but in truth these efforts are less than successful. The reason life insurance policy sales pay big commissions is because life insurance is SOLD not BOUGHT. Anyone who has been in our business for any length of time should know this. Third, consumers don't like to give out personal information to a website, they are terrified of identity theft. The simple questions "What is Your Birthdate" probably concerns many consumers but in the absence of other personal details, a birthdate is meaningless. Only the most ignorant of your website visitors would think otherwise, and if they won't give you their birthdate up front, they certainly aren't going to give you their name, phone number and email address on the back end.
A quoting system on your website is a prospecting tool, and it can be a VERY effective prospecting tool. Think of it as the big picture window at the front of your store in the local mall. A web quoting tool gives a consumer some important information, and can help identify a consumer who wants/needs life insurance, and can encourage them after they see some prices to reach out to you in order to buy life insurance. That's why most stores put prices on the products that they feature in the windows of their stores.
If you attempt to press the purpose and function of the web quote option on your site beyond that point, I believe that you will rapidly suffer from diminishing returns. Remember, the back button is always there and if consumers don't like what they are being asked to fill in, they can easily go somewhere else.
Price Changes Delayed to September 1st
A number of product price changes were discussed in February's bulletin. If you missed it, you can read it here:
Update News for February 2016
We have decided to delay the product and price changes to September 1st. Once the above reference website work is complete, we will need to upgrade our customer database and the websites to accommodate the product and price changes, and with the delays to this point, we are going to add a month to the transition.