The March 2001 disk update will be processed Friday, February 23rd and Monday, February 26th. Disks will be shipped Tuesday, February 27th. You should have the March Update in your office Thursday, March 1st. The Internet monthly update will be posted some time on February 28th to our three monthly update websites.
Unless you have made arrangements to purchase your diskettes, please return your "January disks" ONLY AFTER you have successfully installed the February 2000 Update. January disks are your backup in case you should have problems installing the February edition.
For those who don't like returning disks there are two ways to eliminate the problem.
The first is to switch over to obtaining monthly updates by Internet. Not only will you eliminate the expense and hassle of returning disks, you will save $50 per year in subscription fees.
Before you switch to updates by Internet we require that you complete a special addendum to the license agreement called the "Internet Update Endorsement". Once you have returned that to us we will send you the "Internet Master Disk". You will need that to be able to process the "MONTHLY.CMP" file that you will be downloading each month.
If you want to switch over to Internet monthly updates, please call our office at (800) 798-3488. Our staff will send you the Internet Update Endorsement. Please read it, particularly the part which has you agreeing that you have successfully downloaded and processed our "mid- month updates". If you haven't done that before, you can call the office and we'll be happy to talk you through the procedure.
When you switch to obtaining monthly updates by Internet, Compulife will adjust your prepaid date, taking into consideration the higher price for disk updates, and how much time you have remaining in your existing disk update subscription.
For example, suppose you paid $249 five months ago, with seven months left in your subscription. At that point you want to switch over to Internet monthly updates. We calculate that you have $145.25 left to your credit. Next we calculate the average monthly cost of the Internet update, which is $199 divided by 12 ($16.58 per month). Dividing $16.58 into $145.25 we get 8 3/4 months which we round up to 9 months. Therefore, we increase your account by two additional months.
In addition, if you had been purchasing disks ($21 per year), you can return all your excess boxes of disks with the Internet Update endorsement. $1.75 per box will be added to the $145.25 for each box that you have returned. In the previous example, assuming you have 5 boxes of disks, you would be entitled to an additional credit of $8.75 for a total of $154. Divided by $16.58 you would get 9.28 months which we round up to 10 (to your advantage). That would be a total 3 month extension to the previous disk subscription.
For the month of February, and only for the month of February, if you switch over from getting monthly updates by disk to getting your monthly updates through the Internet, we will give you two additional months for doing so. This offer ends February 28th. To qualify you must have the Internet Update Endorsement signed and returned to our office by the end of the month. If you want or need a copy of the endorsement, please call our office at (800) 798-3488. We'll fax or mail you the endorsement. Please read it before you sign it.
The second way to avoid returning the disks and the disk box each month is to pre-purchase them for $21 per year ($1.75 per month). If you do you can keep them for future reference, throw them away or return them for a credit (once each year) when you are invoiced for the next year. The $21 costs you less than mailing back disks each month.
Last month we advised you that we are offering a new marketing program in conjunction with our Internet comparison engine. The new program allows those who have purchased the Internet engine to provide customized web pages for their associates/agents/brokers at NO ADDITIONAL COST to the engine purchaser.
This means that the internet engine purchaser can charge whatever they want to their agent in order to set up the agent's custom webpage. There is no charge from Compulife for adding that agent.
The only condition to be able to do this is that the agent must be subscriber to Compulife's comparison software for the PC computer (in other words, a Compulife software subscriber. NOTE: Compulife Lite does not qualify for this offer except for bulk buyers.
Software changes and enhancements are being made to the internet engine to make this "multi-user" capability much easier for those setting up custom web pages for agents. Instead of setting up a separate engine and database for each agent, you would need only one engine and one database with multiple user folders. Each user folder will contain the customized files necessary to personalize that agent's webpage and company/product database. Once again, all this is included in the annual price of $1,495 for the Internet engine.
The benefit of the software modifications we are making is that there will only be one Internet database to update, regardless of how many users you have connected to and using that database.
It is anticipated that there will be two types of webpage providers going after the individual agent market using the Compulife Internet engine.
The first group are those who are capable of web programming and who will want to sell web development services to agents who want to set up comparisons for their websites. Compulife has already appointed three independent Internet operations that are NOT insurance agencies or brokerages. These operations are completely independent and will do web programming for agents on a fee-for-service basis.
If you are an individual agent and you want a customized version of Compulife's Internet comparison service at your website, you can call Compulife at (800) 798-3488. We'll give you the names and phone numbers of these authorized Compulife web services.
The second group will be those agencies/brokerages who will want to provide a new value-added service to their brokers. We expect agencies to be willing to provide web pages and sites for less money than the independent web programmers. The simple reason is that the agency can expect to be compensated by insurance business processed through the agency.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Compulife WILL NOT be referring our subscribers to agencies that offer this service to agents.
We want to assure our agency customers that we have no intention of steering anyone's agent/broker from one agency subscriber to another. ONLY the identity of independent web programming operations, not connected to an insurance agency or brokerage, will be given to subscribers. Even though we will not be referring agents to agencies, we still expect a large number of agencies to be interested in this Internet service program as a value-added service for their agents.
Regardless of which of the two groups an agent/broker deals with, the fact is that each individual agent must be a Compulife subscriber. In the end, that's how Compulife makes money - by selling our PC-based software to agents and agencies. As long as the agent is a paying subscriber to Compulife, and is already receiving a PC computer version of our software, then they owe Compulife nothing further to have access to a third party's version of our Internet engine.
One of the features routinely used by our subscribers is the enable/disable function. This allows you to determine which companies and/or products you compare or don't compare within Compulife.
To review, Compulife does not sell personalized databases.
Each Compulife subscriber gets the exact same group of companies and products regardless of whether they want or need those companies and products. The reason for this is quite simple. Compulife can sell a single uniform database to all customers, for all companies and products, for less money than it would cost us to build a smaller customized database for each customer. Therefore, in order to personalize the database for their own needs, Compulife subscribers use Compulife's enable/disable features which are found under the "List or Modify Product Database" on the Compulife Master Menu.
The current enable/disable system works by recording a list of those product codes that you do not want in a comparison. The weakness of this system is that if Compulife adds a new product, or alters a product code, and you update your database either monthly or mid- monthly, then the new product would be included in comparisons because the disable file would not know about the new or changed code. To resolve this you would use the enable/disable function to turn off the new or modified product.
While using enable/disable is straightforward for individual database users, it will become a big maintenance problem for a webmaster who may be supporting hundreds of personalized agent web pages, all of whom want pre-defined groups of companies. It is also a pain for bulk purchasers of Compulife who must modify the disks that we provide to them each month. The change we have made will address this maintenance problem.
Compulife has added a brand new way to instruct the program that there are only certain companies which are to be included in your comparisons. We believe that the new feature is so attractive that we have decided to build it into the PC comparison program, not just the Internet engine.
The following will explain the new feature, how it works in conjunction with the existing enable/disable features, and how it works when running the quotation system.
Previously you had two options to customize your copy of the Compulife database. They were:
6. Enable/Disable a Company
7. Enable/Disable Products in a Category
These options have been changed and expanded to:
6. Select a Group of Companies to Quote
7. Disable Products for a Group of Companies
8. Enable/Disable Products by Category
Note: The old options 6 and 7 are now the new options 7 and 8. While the menu descriptions changed, to better explain their function, there has been no change in the way that these two options work.
As part of explaining the new "Select a Group of Companies to Quote" option, we will review the function of the existing enable/disable options.
When you select this new option, and place asterisks or check marks next to certain companies, a file will be created which has a list of company codes for ONLY THOSE COMPANIES THAT YOU WANT TO QUOTE. The name of the new file will be COMP.INC (COMP.INC means companies included).
When the comparison engine runs a comparison, it will check each product's corresponding company code. The comparison will not display or quote a product if that product's company code is not found in the COMP.INC file.
Once again, COMP.INC contains a list of company codes that are to be included in comparisons, not a list of companies that are disabled.
In addition to the modified comparison, when you press F2 for a list of companies (option 2 on the red Master Menu), in order to locate individual products from a list of companies, ONLY those companies that are listed in the COMP.INC file will be displayed.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you do not use this function the program will not create a COMP.INC file. The system will behave just as it has before.
This is the exact same function as the previous "6. Enable/Disable a Company". When you use this function you are marking those companies whose products you do not want to be included in a comparison.
After you have completed your selections, and on exiting from the option, the system asks if you want to process the changes. At that point the system searches the database for each company that you have marked, and the program creates a series of "disable files".
Each disable file will have a name that is the number that corresponds to its product category. For example, the file 3.DIS will contain a list of product codes for 10 year term plans (comparison category 3 in DOS). Each product code in 3.DIS is a product that you do not want included in your 10 year comparison.
NOTE to Webmasters: .DIS and .INC suffix files are basic text files. While the List or Modify Product Database lets you edit these files, you can also edit those files using a text editor like Notepad or Wordpad. Further, and because of this, for those who wish to set this up as a user function for their web customers, you should be able to create a simple utility that provides a list of companies and company codes so that your user/agent can select the companies themselves. Call Compulife at (800) 798-3488 if you have further questions.
In addition to creating each .DIS file for each category, this option in the program also creates a COMP.DIS file. COMP.DIS only exists so that the next time that you select this program function, it will remember what company codes you did not want to quote the last time that you used the function.
Having noted that, and unlike the new COMP.INC file, the COMP.DIS file is NOT USED by the comparison engine. Even if you disable certain companies in the system, you can still hit the F2 function key and get a complete list of all companies in the Compulife database. The only disable files that are actually used by the comparison engine are the category disable files. Therefore, if you do not like the fact that the new COMP.INC file does not display all companies when you press F2, then you would be well advised to use the Disable Products for a Group of Companies function.
This List or Modify Product Database option is exactly the same as the previous "7. Enable/Disable Products in a Category". The option allows you to further fine-tune your deletions on a category by category, product by product basis.
WARNING: If you use this enable/disable feature, and then go back and use "Disable Products for a Group of Companies", then any changes that you individually made by product category will be overwritten and lost.
Once again, this feature is only used AFTER the company deletions in order to fine-tune certain selections by category.
For example, you may want to quote certain products from a company but not other products from that same company. You cannot accomplish this product by product deletion if you use either of the two previously described features. To summarize, the "Enable/Disable Products by Category" will allow you to go into any product category and make product by product decisions to include or not include those products in comparisons.
If you create a COMP.INC file using the new "Quote ONLY These Companies" feature, then that file will take precedence over any of the disable options.
For example, if you list 6 companies to be included, only products from those 6 companies will ever quote. This is the first and primary filter that we check to determine whether to include products in a comparison or on the F2 company list.
However, if you also disable any products for those 6 companies, using the disable options, then those products will also not quote. This is the second filter which can further reduce what is being quoted on a product by product basis for the same company.
VERY IMPORTANT: .DIS files will not override the COMP.INC file. If you have a COMP.INC file with 6 companies in it, then you cannot enable any companies not listed in that file using the enable/disable products in a category option.
Also Note: In the above example, if you press F2 only those 6 companies that are included in the COMP.INC file will appear. However, all products for those six companies will be displayed even though some of those products may be disabled from comparisons.
By way of review, suppose you only want 6 companies in your database. Previously you would have had to disable all other companies. Once you did that, all the products for those companies were disabled. You can not ge the same result by choosing 6 companies using the new "Select a Group of Company to Quote" option.
However, the problem arose if Compulife added a new company or a new product for an existing company. Because that product CODE was not in the .DIS file(s), that new product would start appearing in comparisons even though you really only wanted the 6 companies that we are talking about. To deal with this, you would have had to use the enable/disable feature to get rid of that new product. That requires ongoing maintenance which, if you are a single user, is not a big problem. However, that becomes a much bigger workload if you are maintaining the database for multiple users.
Disabling that new product code is not necessary with the new COMP.INC system. Because the product's company code is not in the COMP.INC file, the new product will not quote even though it's new to the database.
The ease of maintenance comes from the fact that our ongoing changes to the database rarely result in a change to the company code for an existing company. Therefore, the COMP.INC file will require very little ongoing maintenance and you will only change it if you need to add a company that was not previously being quoted.
Therefore, if you use the new feature, it is quite likely you could go for months and months without having to ever modify the database. As noted earlier, that makes life much simpler for webmasters who will be able to use the Compulife engine for multiple agents.
The other customers who will benefit from this new change are those Compulife subscribers who purchase multiple copies of Compulife and who then bulk process database customizations for their group of users.
Previously the process of enabling/disabling products had to be gone through carefully each month. This was necessary to weed out new products from companies that the customer did not want included in the database. To do this the new version of the system had to be installed to the computer, the enable/disable functions processed, and then a program called "LockFile" would be run. That program then transferred the changes to each set of subuser disks.
Using the new "Select a Group of Companies to Quote" feature, the COMP.INC file is the only thing most bulk buyers will need to create, and that will need to be changed very infrequently. If the bulk purchaser only wants 6 companies in the database, the same six companies as last month, then there is no need to install another edition to the computer or make further changes. All the bulk purchaser has to do is run the existing LockFile and process the new sets of disks. That's it - much simpler.
If you use the LockFile program, and want to use this new feature, then you need to call Compulife at (800) 798-3488 and ask for an upgraded version of the LockFile program.
To date Compulife has provided existing subscribers with 6 free months of software if they refer one of their associates to Compulife who purchases the program. Alternately, you could elect to give your 6 free months to the new purchaser in the form of a 50% first year price discount.
Until further notice, we are now offering both referral bonuses/discounts together.
In other words, refer a new subscriber to Compulife and because of your referral the new subscriber can take a 50% discount off the first year subscription price. In addition, if they do purchase, you will get 6 free months added to your existing subscription.
NOTE: The 6 free month subscription DOES NOT APPLY if the new subscriber purchases a Lite subscription.
In conjunction with the change to referrals announced above, Compulife is embarking upon a new advertising campaign that offers a new subscriber 50% off the first year price if that new subscriber brings with them a second new subscriber at the same time. The second new subscriber will also obtain 50% off the first year annual subscription fee. It's a kind of two for one deal; which we think is a great deal.
To summarize: An old subscriber or a new subscriber can refer another new subscriber to Compulife who will get 50% off because of that referral. In the process the referring subscriber earns for themselves a 6 month (or 50% off) REWARD.
The opportunity to purchase Compulife on a monthly payment basis is no longer available to new purchasers of the program. It is our view that annual subscription fees have decreased to the level where it no longer makes sense to offer a monthly payment program. For those who are strapped for cash, we recommend starting out with Compulife Lite.
At $99 per year, an annual Lite subscription is equal to the total first month cost of our old monthly subscription option.
While new subscribers no longer have the monthly payment option, Compulife will continue to allow existing subscribers to pay monthly until the end of 2001. Those wishing to continue paying monthly from July 1, 2001 to December 31, 2001 will need to provide Compulife with post-dated checks. The fact is that there are only a handful of subscribers who still pay monthly.
During January a Press Release was sent to over 800 media outlets announcing that Compulife now offers an Income Replacement Calculator at the www.term4sale.com website. The release set forth our view that most life insurance buyers do not purchase sufficient coverage and that most are badly underinsured. It is our hope that the story will be picked up by the media and that consumers will be directed to the www.term4sale.com website.
Term4Sale® is now moving forward with more aggressive promotion of the website. On January 1st, as anticipated, Massachusetts adopted Triple- X. Companies domiciled in that state have now XXX'd their term rates. As far as Compulife can determine, this now means that all companies quoted in the Compulife database have now adopted the Triple-X reserves into their term pricing. The market has now, from our perspective, become a level playing field.
We plan to make the impact of Triple-X the basis of future Press Releases from Term4Sale®. The next release will take a look at the trend in premiums, from 1995 to then end of 1999 and then from the beginning of 2000 to the first month of 2001. Basically rates from 1995 to 1999 were in steady decline, with a jump in 2000 due to Triple- X. From 2000 to 2001 rates have once again been dropping.
The third effort will be a follow-up letter to the insurance commissioners of each state.
In that letter I will review the letters that I had previously given to Insurance Commissioners. I warned that the market would be divided into guaranteed and non-guaranteed premiums. In my view, non- guaranteed products leave consumers who buy those products in an unacceptably uncertain position. Even though that is highly negative, price differentials at older ages may make the risk worth considering. It is my view that regulators need to take another step. If Triple-X reserves are really needed, then these low cost non-guaranteed premium level term plans need to be banned.
It is my genuine concern that a number of consumers are buying these products without having the issue of guarantees clearly explained by their agent. I am confident that agents using the Compulife comparison software do not fall into that situation given the clear distinctions we make between guaranteed and non-guaranteed products. However, it is my belief that there are many agents selling non-guaranteed products without mentioning or explaining the risks.
"Authorized company illustrations" do not resolve this problem. In fact it is my view that those illustrations make the problem worse. Consumers are required to sign and declare that they read and understood a complex stack of paper that most will have never read in the first place.
Once the letters to each state's Insurance Commissioner has been sent out, Term4Sale® will do another press release about that effort.
Expect us to introduce these topics (and others) to the public about every 30 to 45 days. It is our hope that the press will pick up on these worthwhile stories. It is also our hope that the media will recognize the benefit to the consumer of the valuable service that we provide to the consumer at www.term4sale.com.
These efforts will be funded by the money paid to Term4Sale®, Inc. by those agents listed at the website.
The first general release of the new Windows software is now included in all monthly updates, including the February disk update. A special one page printed flyer will explain some of the differences and we hope that this will help get our disk based customers over the initial learning curve.
Given the likelihood that further bugs will turn up with the new Windows software, given the fact that increased usage and exposure usually creates combinations of use that we had not yet encountered, please monitor our mid-month update site (www.compulife.com) for continuing changes, fixes and improvements on a day-to-day, week-to- week basis.
For the past two months I have told you that I don't believe I can adequately convey the importance of our mid-month updating service. Having talked about it, I feel the need to stress (one more time) the importance of that service.
Here are some misunderstandings that typically arise:
1. Some have told me that they assume that this is a single update in the middle of the month. Internet Mid-Month Updates occur as they are needed. This could be once a week, it could be twice a day. It is important that you read the bulletin page where you download the update from. This will document each change made, and the date it is changed. Please make that bulletin page a "favorite" on your Explorer browser (bookmark for Netscape users).
2. You can use Mid-Month Updates regardless of how you obtain your monthly update from Compulife. As long as you have a copy of the current monthly update for Compulife, regardless of whether it is personal use, agency or a Lite system, you can download and process the mid-month update files.
Compulife has previously advised our subscribers that those buying our Internet comparison engine are entitled to obtain, at no additional charge, 20 copies of Compulife Lite at NO CHARGE. Compulife Lite retails for $99 per year and is available to bulk buyers for $89 per copy per year.
Compulife has sweetened that deal further for bulk buyers. Compulife will permit those who buy Compulife Lite in bulk, and who are prepared to distribute their Lite systems by Internet (we'll tell you how) to include and ship the Windows version of the program to their sub-users.
For more information about that new option, and instructions on how all that can be done, please call Bob Barney at (800) 798-3488.
Just to remind you, a subscription to the Internet engine is a one time fee of $500 plus $1,495 per year. Once again, that includes 20 free bulk subscriptions to Compulife Lite.
The next step in our software development was discussed in great detail in the November 2000 bulletin. Given that copies of that November bulletin are now available at our www.compulife.com website, we would refer you to the website for full details.
The expanded categories will be a significant modification and improvement to the system. This will permit up to 4 preferred non- smoking categories, 4 non-smoking categories, 3 preferred smoking categories and 3 smoking categories. Each of these categories can be further qualified by being plus or non-plus.
In some cases life companies have adopted premium category titles that label categories in a confusing way. With the changes we will be implementing, we will be able to record and display the company's category labels instead of the standard language that we currently use.
Once again, read the November 2000 bulletin for full details.