Update News for January 2008
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 bulletin.
As explained in the last bulletin, we have been focusing our attention on further enhancements to the forms library. The first stage of the work is now complete and we have introduced a color coded class system and have added the ability to have form comments. The color coded classes will help you to more quickly identify the general type of form, and the comments will better explain where and when the form is used.
Following the summary of changes the we have made to the forms software we will be telling you about offering FREE forms software to life companies and agencies. In that regard some may ask, "What's the Catch?"
While we discuss it in more detail, here is the short answer:
No catch. We believe that forms are not something Compulife can or should sell. Agents do not have to pay for forms and why should they? Forms don't help an agent make a sale or close a deal, they are the paper used to execute the transaction. The sale has already been made, the product has been chosen, the issue is, Where does the agent get the paperwork?" Why should Compulife charge agents for getting forms?
Having forms available from multiple companies in Compulife is all about convenience. We are trying to make it easy for our subscribers to get the paperwork that they need to apply for or service an insurance policy that has already been sold.
Life insurance comparison software is different. Compulife's comparison software is an important marketing tool that an agent can use to make a sale or close a sale easier. It's a tool that can lead to new and more business. It can make an agent more prosperous.
And it makes NO sense for life companies to fund comparison software. Comparisons are a two edged sword. Comparisons can help a company sell their product but comparisons can also steer a consumer to a different company. If an agent is going to have comparison software, it is something that the agent will need to pay for. And if someone else is paying for your comparison software, you have to ask "What's the Catch?". Nobody gives something for nothing.
So why is Compulife spending money on forms software? Because we want our subscribers to have the convenience of one stop forms service. We think that that adds value to our comparison software which you already pay us to provide. We think it is one more reason to choose Compulife as the comparison technology you use - and just one more way that Compulife adds value to your subscription. On its own, we just don't think a forms service is something that we can charge for.
And the reason for FREE software for life companies is to motivate life companies to provide forms to Compulife so we can provide them to our subscribers. It is a not so subtle way of saying thanks for a life company's help.
The biggest enhancement to the forms software in Compulife is the addition of color coded classes. With respect to classes we previously had 3 classes. This new variation allows us to have many more classes and each one is color coded.
NOTE: Classes and color coding are determined by Compulife. If you have suggestions or recommendations about the classes and colors, you need to contact Bob Barney at (888) 798-3488. We are in the early going of the new class system and so your advice can carry much more weight in determining what and how we make changes or improvements. However, once the classes are set, we will be very resistant to making changes simply as it would represent a learning curve for other users. In case no one has noticed, we don't like messing with our software once everyone has learned to use it a particular way.
Also NOTE: Classes are determined universally for all companies, whereas categories are determined by company. In the case of categories, we tend to defer to the system of categories that companies are already using on their own web sites. That makes our listings more understandable to agents who already familiar with using that particular company's forms.
When you display a list of forms by company (we suggest you check out Transamerica Occidental which is the company that we have spent the most amount of time on) not only are the forms grouped in classes by color, the description of the class appears as a tab at the beginning of the group.
The class tab is also important because the white check box to the left of the tab can be used to check all forms in the class or, if checked again, take the checks off all forms in the class. This makes selecting a group of forms much easier.
In regard to the new class system you will see a "Classes" button at the top of the window. The button does two things. First, you can see a complete list of all the current classes and their color codes. Second, it allows you to select forms in a class. While this may seem redundant, given that you can click the box next to the class tab in the actual list, you will notice a "Save as Default" button on the window. If you decide you want a couple of particular classes of forms automatically checked when you first display a list of forms, then use the "Classes" button to select those two classes. Once you have checked the classes that you want, click on the "Save as Default" button. From that point on, each time you display a list of forms, those two classes will be automatically checked.
NOTE: If you use the new classes default the preceding default system is disabled. The previous default system allows you to check individual forms, regardless of class, and have that list automatically checked when the forms list is first displayed. If you prefer using that default system, DO NOT save your class choices as default. If you have saved some classes as default, and want to go back to the previous system of automatically checking forms, you can undo what you did by pressing the "Classes" button, un-checking each class, and saving the un-checked list as the class default. That will enable the previous default system.
Compulife has now added a comment line(s) for forms. In the case of Transamerica, not only did the company provide us with a description of their form, they also provided us with comments to give more of an indication of how and why the form is used. We are now able to display those comments where a company has provided us with comments.
The comments now appear next to the form description on the list of forms. Due to the information on the line, you may want to widen the form list by grabbing the right hand edge of the window and pulling it further to the right. Alternately, if you "reset defaults" (found on the option list on the red menu) you will see that we now think the best view of the forms list is screen wide.
NOTE: Some comments can be so long that the entire comment may not be displayed on the list. If you put your pointer on the form line, the full comment will appear in a light yellow box just below that line.
In regard to comments we are looking for life company assistance to provide comments for each form. If a company can provide a list, or can point us to where we can find the comments on an existing list, we are happy to do all the work adding the comments.
Compulife has moved the forms "Text Search" option to the top of the forms listing page. Hopefully that will make it more obvious and prominent.
The search option now allows you to search for text in the form description, form comment and form file name. If you are looking for an aviation form, just type the word "aviation" into the field and click the search button. The first line to contain the word aviation will be highlighted. Click search again, and it will look for the next form that has the word aviation.
One of our subscribers indicated that they liked to be able to copy and paste a record of a form into their database. You can now right click on the form line and copy that information into the Windows clipboard which can be pasted somewhere else.
NOTE: This should underline that we are happy to make whatever enhancements we can to accommodate those who use our system. We want this to be the best forms retrieval system anyone has ever used. With your help, we will get there.
Having completed the above changes, we are now turning our attention to stand-alone forms retrieval software. There will be two versions of this stand-alone software, one which will run as a PC based program, and one which will run as an on-line version.
Both versions of the stand-alone software, together with our forms management software, will be FREE and available to all life companies who provide their forms for use by Compulife subscribers.
IMPORTANT: If you are a Compulife subscriber, DO NOT USE THE FORMS for a company for which you are not appointed. If Compulife receives a complaint from a company, that a subscriber used a form that they were not appointed to use, then Compulife will take appropriate action. It could lead to a termination of your use of Compulife's software.
We do not want life companies to feel that providing forms for use in Compulife's forms library means that the company is at greater risk of legal problems as a result of the conduct of our subscribers. While we share the concern which companies have, it is also worth noting that there are already many other sources for life company forms on the web. Therefore, it makes little sense for a life company to withhold their forms from Compulife simply because they are worried that an agent may not use a form properly. Further, I would think that a life company has the option of reporting an agent to the appropriate licensing authorities if they believe that the agent is falsely holding out that they represent a life company which they are not appointed with.
All that to say we want to work WITH companies to provide agents with an easy way to obtain the forms that they need to sell and service life insurance products. Nothing underlines that more than the investment that we are making to create and provide life companies with stand-alone forms software that they can obtain and use for FREE.
The neat thing about this free software is that a company can also decide which internet servers (and/or how many) they use to provide the service to their agents. At Compulife we currently offer our monthly updates on 7 different servers and our midmonth updates on 4 different servers. Why? Because it is not IF an internet service is going to fail, it is WHEN will it fail. That is why Compulife remains committed to PC based software that uses the Internet for updating and update retrieval, NOT for running quotes.
Compulife's PC based, stand-alone forms software will be called "Go For Forms". The EXE file will be called "go4forms.exe". We have come up with the image of a "gopher" for the icon.
We are currently working on that software now and it should be released during January.
For all intents and purposes the software will look and work exactly the same as the PC based forms software in Compulife. When you run go4forms.exe, the forms listing page will appear just as it does in Compulife. The first think that the software will do is check for updates to the forms library file. If it detects that a new library file is available, it will download that library file.
The form library file, and the forms themselves, will be available from the servers determined by the life company. Once again, updates and forms will NOT be downloaded from Compulife's servers, they will be downloaded from the company's servers. If a company wants to add more bandwidth, or have backup servers, they will be free to do so.
The advantage of the PC based program is that an agent can literally download ALL the forms and have ALL the forms on their PC. After that, it won't matter if they are connected to the web or not, the form can be retrieved from the PC.
IMPORTANT: The retrieval of a form from the PC or the web is automatically controlled by the forms library file. Providing that the form on your PC is the most recent version, the system retrieves the form from the PC. IF the form has changed, then the system will require the newer version of the form to be downloaded from the web. This is all automatic - you don't have to think about it - the program does all this for you.
The go4forms.exe file, and the other files required for startup, can be installed from a simple setup.exe file provided by Compulife. Alternately, it can be bundled into a life company's existing PC software and can be called from that PC software. It's up to the company how they want to integrate it into their existing PC software.
When go4forms.exe is complete, we will turn our attention to developing the web based version. The web version of "Go For Forms" will allow an agent to obtain forms from a web site. While many companies already have that ability, the big advantage to the Compulife variation is that the web version can displays lists of forms, and retrieve forms, from the very same location that the PC based forms software obtains its forms and updates.
In other words, Compulife's form software give a life company TWO, count them TWO, different methods of providing forms to their agents. And even though there are TWO ways to get forms, there is only one system of maintenance required for both.
The "cherry on top" of our FREE software for life companies is that Compulife will provide each life company (that wants it) a FREE copy of our forms management software. This means that the company will have a copy of the very same software that Compulife uses to list, classify and categorize forms. This means the company can make changes their own changes to listings - or Compulife can do it for the company. If we do it, then the company can use the technology to check Compulife's work. If the company decides to take responsibility for doing the maintenance, we simply ask that the company let us have access to those changes so we can update our own forms library. Our forms management system has been made to easily integrate an individual company into the entire group that Compulife offers in our software.
Compulife will be allowing our authorized web providers to have copies of our online forms retrieval software for their web sites, and for the web sites of our subscribers who use the Compulife Internet engine on those sites.
IMPORTANT: Authorized web providers will need to make contact with life companies and satisfy themselves that they have the permission of those life companies to use our forms retrieval software on their web sites. If a company does not extend permission for their forms for you site, you will be able to turn those forms off.
Agencies who purchase the Compulife internet engine from Compulife will also be able to obtain the Forms Management Software. The point of obtaining a copy of the Forms Management Software is NOT to make changes to the company forms that are already in Compulife. If you want a change to those forms, you need to contact Compulife to get those changes made. The point in having a copy of the forms entry technology is to allow you to add the forms for companies not in Compulife.
For example, a lot of agencies sell mutual funds. Compulife will NOT have mutual funds forms in our software. But if you have the Compulife Forms Management Software you will be able to add the company to the list and inventory that company's forms using our Forms Management Software. You may have your own agent contracts, instructions, etc.; they can all be added to your forms library. When you are done, the Forms Management Software will create your own customized version of the forms library, including those companies you select from the Compulife forms library, and the combined, customized forms library goes onto your web site.
To complete the deal, you will be given copies of Compulife's "Go For Forms" programs, both the PC and online version.
All of this will be free to the agency which buys our Internet engine. The Internet engine is sold for $995 per year and comes for use on either Linux or Windows NT servers.
But if all you need is the forms Compulife provides, then your least expensive way to add forms and quotes to your web site is to sign up with one of our authorized web providers.
If all this leaves you with questions we have not answered, you can call Bob Barney at (888) 798-3488 or email Bob at:
The first thing you can do is to help us add more companies. Currently the following are the companies whose forms are available in our forms library:
American General Life Insurance
Banner Life Insurance
Centrian Life Insurance
North American Company for L & H
Pruco Life Insurance
Pruco Life Insurance of New Jersey
Reliastar Life Insurance Company
Reliastar Life Insurance Company of NY
Savings Bank Life Insurance
Transamerica Financial Life Insurance
Transamerica Occidental Life Insurance
United States Life Insurance in New York
West Coast Life Insurance
Western Reserve Life Insurance
William Penn Life Insurance
If you have a company which you do business with, and their forms are not in our system, WHY? Remember, this is FREE to the life company. It costs them NOTHING to have their forms available through Compulife.
All we ask from the company are two things. First, we need the current forms and a list of forms indicating the states that they are used in and how they are used (most companies have all this already). Second, we ask that the company notify us by email whenever they add or make changes to their forms. Once again, most companies are already doing that with their agencies, all they need to do is put us in the information loop.
Life companies do not have to use our retrieval software to participate. It is available to them if they want it, or if they want to have an alternate (backup) method for their agents to get forms. The important thing is that the company does not have to use our technology.
For many companies they just don't realize this opportunity exists. You can do them, Compulife and yourself a favor by calling that company and asking why their forms are not in Compulife. Give them Bob Barney's phone number (888) 798-3488 or call Bob with the contact person. Either way, YOU need to let the company know how helpful it would be if you could get their forms through your Compulife program.