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Update News for May 2014

Here is a quick run-down on what you will find in this bulletin:

    • Product Change Will Require Updated Internet Engine



    • Status Report – Improved Company Information



These topics will be dealt with in more detail throughout this bulletin.

Product Change Will Require Updated Internet Engine
The need to update the Internet Engine will ONLY apply to those subscribers who use our Internet Engine on their own server (the $995 per year option). If you are using the $99 per year version of the Compulife for web quotes on your web site, you can ignore this discussion because Compulife takes care of all the updates related to your website quotes.

For the most part Compulife’s quotation software is “data driven”. By that we mean that our program thinks all life insurance products are the same products, and the only difference between each product is a matter of which program options we have or have not activated in conjunction with those individual products. Within our program are a number of switches that are controlled by the data we have entered for the product. That data tells the program what to do in order to quote and show the product. It is the combination of the setting of those software switches, controlled by the data files, that permits a product to be displayed properly.

After 30 years, there isn’t much we haven’t seen and so we have built a broad enough data entry system so that any possible variation that we encounter, can be structured using the entry of different data variables.

For example, most products have banded rates. That means that one company’s product may have three different rate bands, another may have 5. Our programmer does not have to change the program to accommodate that; we have a simple question in our data entry system that asks how many bands. Once we answer that question in the data entry part of our software, our program knows what to do.

Of course to handle the various combinations requires a lot of questions and knowing which questions to ask, and how to answer them, is what we do. It is also why our system is never really finished, simply as products evolve and we have to evolve with them.

Continuing with the banding example, when we built the second generation of our software (currently being used) we had a maximum number of bands of 6. We thought, at the time, no one would ever have more than 6. Today we actually have some products with more than 12.

So the limit of 6 needs to be addressed and will be addressed in the 3rd generation database that we are building. In the meantime we skate around the problem by putting the same product in more than once, giving us 6 bands per product entry. The aggregate of the multiple product entries ends up representing the product. It’s not very elegant, but it gets the job done and fortunately that is the exception and not the rule.

Back to why you will need a program update if you are using the Internet Engine (the $995 per year version).

One of the things associated with bands is the fact that some companies have different policy fees for different bands. But for the first time EVER, we have hit a company that is rolling out a 3 band product, with the second band having 25 different policy fees depending on the face amount. It’s like 25 bands within the second band.

No one here saw that coming.

But we do have a mechanism in our software for what we call “Special Routines”. When this is activated for a product, our programmer can write into the software the variations needed in order to handle a particular product.

Typically the Special Routine is not used very often. When that routine is used it does not affect Windows subscribers simply as you get updated program in addition to updated changes to rates.

The big hitch when we do a Special Routine is how much lead time we need in order to make the change. Typically if our programmer is needed to make changes for a particular product, then it slows down the process of updating, and things need to be checked after a new version of the program is built.

By contrast, when it only requires a data change to add or modify a product, that can be done very, very fast. We routinely astonish life insurance companies who typically provide us with new rates in the morning, and who are then able to see those new rates in the test software that afternoon.

So the need to make product specific changes to the program, when a product change is made, occurs very rarely. When it does, an updated engine will be needed for those using the Internet Engine on their web site (the $995 per year version). Once again, those of you using the $99 quoting system for your web sites can relax, we update those engines ourselves.

In Canada we have a similar area in our software for Special Routines. That has do with with joint life quotes. Joint life products also require special joint life routines for calculations. We handle those in the program because it is very difficult to detect patterns between companies. If we offered joint life quotes for the internet quote engine (which we don’t yet), then our Canadian customers would need fairly routine updates of the internet engine. That will likely change in the future, following the roll out of the 3rd generation system. We will likely build a joint life data tool, that will instruct the program on how the joint life premium is calculated, and we will be able to make changes by simply changing data. Once that is completed, we will likely offer joint life web quote to our subscribers.

Updating the internet engine can be a pain in the butt (the $995 per year version). Often the program is set up in a particular way on the customer’s server and when the new engine is plugged in certain file attributes might need to be reset, etc. That may mean that the first time it is plugged in, it might not work. Those replacing an old engine with a new engine will need to follow the instructions carefully.

All this to say that on May 19th there will be some new rates for a new product in our system. We can’t disclose the company or products until then, simply as pre-release information provided to Compulife is embargoed until it is public. At that point our engine subscribers will not only need to update the data for their web sites, they will also need to update the engine. The only exception will be those subscribers who do not use the engine to quote that company or its products. Once again, you will only know which company on May 19th.

IMPORTANT: Without the new engine the quotes for the new products will be wrong.

Also important, many subscribers will not read this bulletin. On May 19th, when we update those products in our system, we will also advise you in the midmonth bulletin explaining the need for the change. We will also tell you, in the midmonth bulletin on May 19th, which company is involved. We will remind you that a new engine will be needed for those who use the $995 option. Of course there will be those who don’t read that bulletin either, which is why we will be doing an email blast to engine users some time after the May 19th change has occurred.

As always, when you get a new engine you will need to rename the old engine and put the new engine in it’s place. Do not DELETE the old engine. If the new engine should not work properly you will want to go back to the old engine until you can figure out what problem you are encountering (hopefully none).

We are giving you an early warning so that you can set time aside on May 19th (or shortly thereafter) to deal with that issue. You can request the engine in advance of the change, as early as the week of May 12th.

Once again, this ONLY affects those subscribers who are using the $995 internet engine.

Status Report – Improved Company Information
We are coming to the end of the process which will provide you with the new “Company Information” feature in our software. We have now completed all the necessary data entry work and now have the actual information for each company stored correctly into the data files. Our test software is retrieving the data and displaying it properly, using the default web browser on the computer. The last step is to integrate the retrieval/display component into our windows program itself. That should occur sometime in May. Once it is ready we will include it in a midmonth update.

To show you how this will look and work, you can find a sample here:

Banner Life – Company Information
NOTE: Life companies are welcome to ask us for a sample page of what we have for them. Simply email:
and tell us that you want the sample Company Information page for your company. We’ll send it to you.

Having clicked on the sample link above for Banner Life you will see the page exactly as it will appear when you click on the new option in the program (later in May). The difference is that instead of coming from the internet the page will be generated by our Windows program on the default browser on your computer. It only needs the internet to display the company logo and A.M. Best logo. Those graphics are pulled from the internet and not stored locally on your PC. If internet access is not available, the page will still display, there will just be blank boxes where the graphics should have appeared.

The page now combines the company information and more information about A.M. Best ratings. The old “A.M. Best” option which appears on the top of the single product display, will be replaced by “Company Info” which will display this new page of combined information.

The style and look of the page is not controlled by an .html template file. The default template for this page is called “company.tpl”.

Do NOT modify “company.tpl” because that file will be in every monthly update from Compulife, and will overwrite any changes that you may make to it. Further, we reserve the right to modify that file ourselves, should we come up with a style we like better, or need to add additional information.

If you want to make changes to the look, style and content of the page, you can do so by copying “company.tpl” to “company.htm”. If “company.htm” is present, then the program will use “company.htm” instead of “company.tpl”. Having copied company.tpl to company.htm you can edit/modify/change company.htm to your heart’s content.

The information that comes from our company information database is set out as “$” code “variables”. For example, the company name is a variable called “$NAME$”. When our program sees that variable in the template file, it knows to replace the variable $NAME$ with the actual name of the company. You can format the look of the name the way you format any other .html text. In the company.tpl file, we have surrounded the company name with the following:

<font size=”5″ face=”Arial”><b>$NAME$</b></font>
In this example the company name is being displayed in an “Arial” font, using size number 5 which is “18pt” text size. It is also being put in bold, hence the <b> followed by the $NAME$, followed by </b>. If you wanted to change the color, font, size, whatever, you will be able to do so.

Looking down the example page the first clickable item is the “Company Website:”. When you click on the website address ““, your browser now takes you from the local page being displayed on your computer, to the company’s web page which it pulls from the web.

The “Email:” link can/will do one of two things:

First, if we actually have an email address for the company, it will pop up your email program, with the email address placed into the “To:” field of your email.

Second, if we don’t have an email address for the company, we give you a a link to the email page (contact page) which we found at the company’s own website. Instead of using your email program you fill in a form on the company’s site which you complete and submit. That’s how your email will get to that company.

NOTE: If life companies ask for their sample page, and want to change information for items like that, we would be happy to make those changes. Home Offices should ask us for their sample. Apart from everything else, this is YOUR advertisement to OUR subscribers, and a FREE one at that.

Under the A.M. Best logo you will see the “Financial Strength Rating:” followed by “View Definition“. By clicking that link on the page the guide to “Best’s Financial Strength Rating” appears. This is the documentation needed to understand what the various aspects of a Best rating means.

You will notice that the “A.M. Best#:” shows the number “006468” as a clickable link. When you click on the A.M. Best number you will be taken to the “A.M. Best’s Consumer Insurance Center” page for the company. While much of the key A.M. Best rating information is already contained in our database, it’s nice to have this as a supplement. There are some additional facts displayed on the A.M. Best page, although one rating fact is missing. In addition to the new “Outlook”, which tells you what A.M. Best’s sense of the future of that rating is, the Consumer page doen’t show the rating “Action:”. The action tells you what happened on the date the last rating was given. “Affirmed” means the rating did not change. “Upgraded” means the rating improved, while “Downgraded” means the rating was lowered.

This brings us to the “More Ratings Information” which is new. The first clickable link is “Click Here To See More Ratings Information“. When you click on that link you will be taken to the page on the company’s own website where the company discusses what other ratings (if any) they have.

For smaller companies it is often not surprising that they have only A.M. Best ratings. Getting a rating costs a life insurance company significant money and so the smaller the company, the more likely that A.M. Best is the only rating that they have. By contrast, many of the larger companies have multiple ratings from multiple ratings agencies. You will see all that when you get the new feature in our program and check it out for different companies.

The last clickable link is “Google Search For Regulation Information about this Life Company“. This link provides a google search of the NAIC number for the company. The number is new information in our system. Once you know the NAIC number for a company, all kinds of regulatory information about the company can be found on the web.

The nice thing about our new data entry system for Company information is that it has been designed to be easily modified. If we receive future suggestions for additional information, or need to delete data from the system, it is now going to be very easy to do.

And finally, you now have a way to change the output page to make it what you would like. This is the foundation for what we will be doing in the future, by way of printouts for our comparison software. If what we have designed is suitable for you, then you can use it as is. If you would like it to look different, knock yourself out.

And one more thing, it is easy to parachute .html pages (the company page) into Microsoft Word. Try it. Start up Microsoft Word. Go to the sample page we have given you for Banner. With the page displayed, do a Control-A, which will highlight the entire page. Now do a Control-C (which is the same as right clicking and choosing “copy”). Now go to Word and do a Control-V (which is the same as right clicking and choosing “paste”).

Now try that same idea with your email and send the email to yourself.

Now imagine you will be able to do all of this with all our printouts in the future.


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