for May 2020
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
Term4Sale Zip Codes
There are generally two key dates for zip code buyers. They are the week of the first Monday in November, and the second Monday in January.
November is bump week when you can use local zip codes let you muscle your way into the best zip codes in your local area, defined as the area within a 20 mile radius of where you physically are located. What that means is that if the subscriber has bumped their way into those best zip codes, and if that subscriber fails to renew their subscription, then those prime "local" zip codes end up being returned to available zip codes and they become available to anyone who has a PC subscription to Compulife.
I went checking for an example for this story, and found a good zip code that is sitting there ready to be grabbed by an astute subscriber (there are more than one):
According to the zip codes analyzer, that zip code has 14,4318 households with an average income per househld of $94,194 for a total zip code income of $1,359,310,000 (that's over a "billion"). It's still there as of the writing of this bulletin although one earlier example I was using was gone during my drafting of this bullein.
How did I find it? That was easy. First, I went to:
I entered in a known zip code for California. You can find a known zip code easily by doing this:
I took the first zip code that turned up, 90201 and put it into the zip code analyzer. I then changed the number of Listed Zip Codes from 100 to 2000 (California is a big state). I then clicked the "Analyze This" button. Once the spreadsheet results displayed, I went to the top of the 4th column, clicked once on "Zip Code Income (Millions)" which displayed zero's at the top, and then clicked "Zip Code Income (Millions)" again which gave me 95014 which is the fattest zip code on the list. Next, scrolling down the list and watching the 1st column, I looked for the first zip code that had less than 3 subscribers listed. And there it was:
Are there more; you bet. Keep going down the list, and you will see them.
Now if you are a big zip code enthusiast, and you buy zip codes in California, you should save that particular web page and zip codes search to your favorites. Rename it in the favorites to something like "Zip Codes California". The next time you want to check, you simply click on that favorite and then when that spreadsheet displays, click twice on "Zip Code Income (Millions)" and you're back to prospecting for nuggets.
You should do that for each state you are interested in routinely checking and you should check this once ever month or two. Why? Because when a subscriber stops renewing, and we cancel their subscription, their local zip codes (if they had any) come back into the database. Once again, that can happen anytime.
And remember, when buying zip codes as additional zip codes, we charge a pro-rated amount to the end of the year. So, if you buy in May, you will have to pay for June to December which is $1.50 X 7 = $10.50 per zip code.
It pays to read bulletins.
How is This Affecting You?
Last month we talked about the covid-19 issue and asked, "How is this affecting you?". One subscriber wrote to give us their thoughts. He asked to remain anonymous:
Dear Bob and Jeremiah,
To respond to your questions in the April 2020 bulletin:
Note: I do business in New Jersey and minimally in New York. I work from home exclusively.
Percentage of Business Done Face-to-Face: Zero
Complications from Phone Business, Mailing Applications, Etc.: None, since all the carriers I use offer an electronic method of submitting applications or tickets.
Paramedical Exam Companies: Yes, still willing go out to do exams but prospective clients are balking at having anyone enter their home.
New Rules: Principal actually reduced their rates and introduced expanded accelerated underwriting (that is, possibility of not needing an exam and labs) from $1,000,000 to $2,500,000 for those ages 20-40 and from $1,000,000 to $2,000,00 for those ages 41-60 if an exam was completed in the past 24 months and all lab results normal. Banner is asking for a signed Good Health Statement on all new business as a policy delivery requirement.
New Forms: None that I have seen... yet.
Getting the Word Out About Changes in the Life Insurance Marketplace: I've been contacting all the fence sitters and tire kickers. Totally apathy on their part. Either too scared to make a decision, making excuses or believing I am trying to profit from the current state of our world. I find consumers to be their own worst enemy (this will never change). They are not looking long-term. I've mentioned to prospects that though the life insurance death benefit will be there from the first day their policy is in force, they are purchasing it for the long-term financial security of their family. The general response is "I'm now living day to day and not thinking about tomorrow." So called social distancing from insurance agents/brokers has existed for as long as I have been in the business, which is close to 29 years.
Based on the above, I will work with people who contact me but I am not going out of my way beginning tomorrow, April 01st for anyone who had me do work but is using the coronavirus as a reason to not move forward in acquiring life insurance. If I push too hard with all the compelling reasons why they should act now, I'll only being making enemies. I'll sit tight and contact them when things improve. I can lead the horse to water but I can't make him or her drink. Fortunately, I can afford to lay back for quite a long while without it having a financial impact. Mentally, I would prefer to keep busy since I'm in this business because I truly enjoy helping people!
I hope all is well with you and your families. Thanks for reading and for soliciting our feedback.
So how does your experience compare with this? We would like to hear from anyone to broaden our understanding.
And finally, as we told you last month, everyone here at Compulife work from their offices in their homes, and so nothing has changed except we don't get out as much as we used to.
And remember, Let's be Careful Out There
Low Interest Rates Are A Problem
We are seeing persistent and historically low interest rates having an impact on the term market, and you will have seen that as you got midmonth updates in April.
Midmonth bulletins automatically pop up when you do a midmonth update, but you can get them anytime by going to the Compulife Red Menu and clicking on the third last big button which says:
Bulletins and File Finder
often rate changes are included in the monthly update, and that is true this month. We have two companies changing rates for May 1st but you won't know about it until you get the first midmonth update in May (currently the first one is scheduled for May 4th) but you can see the May 1st changes NOW by going to the:
Bulletins and File Finder
and selecting the midmonth bulletin, second on the list.
Regarding price inceases, we told you in March in the midmonth bulletin:
Compulife has just been notified by one of the
life insurance companies selling 30 year term,
that due to the ultra-low interest rate environment,
and the current uncertainty about the future of
interest rates, that they intend to temporarily
cease offering 30 year term as of mid-April.
When that information is public, we will let you
We have no idea how long this embargo will last,
or if any other companies will follow suit, but
now would be a very good time to let your customers
know that low interest rates may very well lead
to price increases for longer level term products
and no lapse GUL products. This is definitely
an excellent time to buy 30 year term and longer
What I do think is that it would be smart to start communicating the impact of this to your clients and prospects using it as an opportunity to reinforce the value of recent purchases of competitive term life, and the need to get longer level term while prices are still low. I realize that some insurance buyers are hurting financially and that may not be possible, but for those with the means now is a good time to buy. Prices are not going to be lower for a long time.
Term4Sale - Raw API quotes
While the work of implementing our new API at term4sale.com is not finished, we are closing in on the end. To demonstrate what we are talking about, our programmer has set up a "simple" test page at term4sale.com that lets you see the API actually function. The Example/Test page is producing quotes by calling the new API service. Here's that test page which has been VERY simply formatted (not made to look pretty).
If you visit the page and click the Compare Now button you will see the results displayed below the page.
I expect the immediate reaction to be, "So what's the big deal?"
On the current home page of term4sale.com, when you click the "Compare Now" button, the page sends the client data directly to the "Internet Quote Engine" which is resident on the same term4sale server. The client information is directly received by the engine which returns the quote results to the user in a page that has been formatted by a template file that is also resident on the term4sale server.
That is not what happens when you see the quote displayed in the new API Example here:
On that page, when you click the "Compare Now" button, a request is submitted to the API service which is located on a completely different website/server. The raw data (results) are then shipped back to the API Example page/site where they are formatted on the term4sale site. Once again, the results are not formatted and displayed by the server that contains the quote engine, they are formatted and displayed back on the server that made the request for the results.
To summarize, the server that is operating the API service will be receiving and processing requests coming from other servers. Before processing the requests, the API checks the request against a database that determines if the request is legitimate and authorized. The database "counts" and records the request (for the purposes of volume/billing). The database will notify Compulife if the request is unauthorized or if the request is a series of requests that represent unusual or peculiar volumes. If the request is determined to be legitimate, the API communicates that request to the Internet Engine which is on the server where the API database is located. Once the quote results have been obtained from the engine, they are then assembled into a file format that uses JSON standards, and ships that back to the server/site that made the original request.
While there is a lot going on in this process, results (as you can see by trying it) are virtually instantaneous. Having said that, it will be (milliseconds) slower than having the Internet engine on your own server.
We Maintain The Product/Rate Files
If there is anything Internet Engine users do not like it is that they must transfer company and rate files from their PC to their servers. Compulife does NOT touch the customer's server. Personally I do all this updating of servers with data files at Compulife for our Term4Sale site, Web Quote options and the Compulife Basic product. None of this is hard to do and with modern internet connections it can be done in less than a minute. But it's a job that must be routinely done and some subscribers have trouble getting someone in their operation to do it with regularity. If you let the company and rate data get out-of-date, it can lead to problems.
With the API function that will all be looked after by Compulife (just one more server that we update). As I post monthly and midmonth updates to the web for our PC software, I obtain those same updates and transfer the necessary files to the various servers that we have. Once again, it's not hard but it must be regularly done and I am nothing if not regular.
API - You Will Still Need Someone To Do Programming
For those who want an easy/simple solution to add a quoting system to their website, the web quote option is still the simplest way to put quotes on your website. Most subscribers simply make a "iframe" on the web page (or pages) where they want the quote option displayed, and then put the link that we give them in that frame; DONE.
The API function will give you some rudimentary page examples, but you will still have to design and format how you want that to look and function on your website. And building web pages is "programming" and either you know how to program or you don't. And if you don't you will need to find someone who can do that programming.
Typically, when a prospective buyer of the Internet Engine inquires about obtaining the engine, we explain it is a CGI-executable program that they will need to placed into the cgi-bin of their server. We explain that the package we ship comes with sample/example pages and that whoever is tasked with setting this up needs to use our example pages and get the thing working on their server WITHOUT any modifications to those pages. The important first step is to get it functioning and producing quotes.
This will be the same process with the API, however it will not require any effort to make sure that the server is set up with the right environment to run the CGI-executable, because all of that will be handled on our end. The initial objective will be to place the sample pages we provide on your server, and ensure they are working as in this example:
After that, the pages that obtain client information and display quotes will be on your server and you will need to have someone design and create the solution so that it works the way that you want it to. And there the devil is going to be in the details. What we have noticed over the past few years is a growing number of programmers, that agents have retained to do their sites and who want to implement our internet engine, are being told by those programmers that they need an "API". Those programmers may not have worked with a CGI executable before and seem to have no interest in learning how to do so (even though it is easy). Some actually INSIST they can only work with an API.
Here's a little perspective as we roll this out. I believe that many programmers who tell our customers they need an API were using that as an excuse, not an objection. Programmers who are not willing to follow our well laid out instructions to set up the internet engine on our customer's server, and work with that, will more than likely balk once they get our new API package. Why? Because these same folks are NOT very capable programmers. They can design pages for websites, but when it come to interfacing those pages with internet programs they have not worked with before, there is a learning curve and some programmers stall out because it's something they have not done before.
I have often told prospective customers who obtain our Internet Engine for the first time, that they need to INSIST that the web programmer they have hired, put the engine and sample pages on their sites, WITHOUT making ANY changes and get the quoting system working first. If the programmer cannot accomplish that simple task, which should take no more than a couple of hours, then they need to shop for a new programmer. The advice I give to new customers of our API option will be the same. If the web programmer can't get the basic API sample page functioning on your site, then you can assume that they really don't know what they are doing.
As an aside, some wonder why Compulife markets to new customers using a 30 Day Free Trial and a 4 month free subscription for those who do a tutorial. I consider the process an "aptitude test". Is the prospective life agent smart enough to follow instructions? Some are not. We want to know that because we don't want those folks as customers. Through the years I have had some agents who insist they don't want to do the tutorial, they just want to buy the software. It seems like anytime in the past that we let someone buy the program without going through the tutorial process it ended up badly. Either they demand we refund their money or they complain that the program is not something they use. All that is sorted out by the tutorial and the 4 free month reward. In a similar way our Internet Engine and API technologies are great aptitude tests for internet programmers. If they can't work with the technology, you don't want them working on your website.
To summarize, the new API will not be a "programmer in a drum". Web pages will not program themselves and you will need someone to do that. And, just as with the Internet Engine, none of Compulife's existing staff is available to do custom work for customers.
The API service will be volume based. Here's a tentative pricing schedule:
1,200 or less quotes per month - $396 per year (includes Compulife Basic)
6,000 or less quotes per month - $780 per year (includes Compulife Personal Use)
30,000 or less quotes per month - $1,200 per year (includes Compulife Standard Use)
All of these prices are less than the current cost of the Internet Engine, which is $1,500 per year (including Compulife Standard Use). The price for the engine will remain the same for customers doing 60,000 or less quotes per month. Any customer doing over 60,000 quotes per month will have the price of the Internet Engine increased to $2,200 per year (in addition to their Standard License of $300).
Some current subscribers to the Internet Engine, who are doing smaller volumes of quotes, will probably want to switch to the new API version of the software because their volume is relatively low and they will save money with the API version of quotes. The API customer will still be able to produce the very same quotes that they are producing now and still be able to fully customize their user interface and quote functions. Instead of delivering pages to the customer's website, the API delivers raw output: company information and premiums. The user takes that data and imbeds it into their web pages and systems.
The other advantage of the API over the Internet Engine is that Compulife will take over the updating of rates and software, which means the user has less maintenance. The downside is that quotes will be coming from our server, and if our server goes down, so do your quotes. Having said that, reliability seems high. We have not had many issues with the web quote option for customers, and so we hope the same is true for the API (I should add that I don't trust the internet).
Those doing over 30,000 quotes per month will need to buy the Internet Engine. First, we don't want their high volume use dragging down our server performance. Second, anyone doing that kind of volume needs to pay for the server that they are running the quoting software from, and depending on volume they can get whatever type of server service they want/need, from shared hosting to stand alone equipment.
Our Current Programming Plans for 2020
The following is the current order for new work that we will be doing in 2020:
Complete API Introduction
Overhaul Of Current Product Data Files
Introduction of New PC Version: CQS.EXE
Introduction of Compulife Basic Plus (with Pick 12)
Anyone with questions about any of these upcoming projects can call Bob Barney to discuss:
Please don't email me essay questions, just call. If I'm not in, email me your phone number, I'll call you.
These planned objectives will easily consume our programming time during 2020. The good news is that once the product data files have been converted, and we have introduced the new CQS.EXE, and upgraded our internet engine to use the new data files, Compulife will be turning it's full attention to our web based, Compulife Basic software. The long term goal is to have a web based product that does everything our PC based software does.