A partially-automated system and method of generating insurance
pre-applications that reduces data entry and processing errors.
Rules-based software applications are used to generate insurance
product options for insurance applicants. The fulfillment of each
insurance application is outsourced to a service provider which
reduces insurance broker involvement in the application process.
A central control hub houses computer hardware and software for
storing data and transmitting information between the hub and external
workstations to facilitate monitoring and completion of each insurance
application and placement of insurance policies. Insurance brokers
may be partially or wholly reimbursed for the fee associated with
each insurance pre-application.
1. A computerized method for preparing insurance applications comprising
the steps of: collecting preliminary information from an applicant;
generating one or more insurance product options based on said preliminary
information utilizing a rules-based application; selecting of one
of said one or more products; and merging said preliminary information
and said selected product to create a pre-application.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein said pre-application is entered
into a form displayed on a computer.
3. The method of claim 1 wherein said preliminary information includes
said applicant's age, state of residence, insurance amount, gender
and health class.
4. The method of claim 1 wherein said rules-based application comprises
software and a database, said database containing information regarding
various offerings of insurance products and said software selecting
one or more of said offerings from said database based on said preliminary
5. The method of claim 4 wherein said information regarding various
offerings of insurance products comprises information about multiple
insurance carriers, said information including forms and underwriting
requirements, mortality costs and product information.
6. The method of claim 1 wherein said insurance product options
are displayed on a computer and wherein said selection of one of
said one or more products is facilitated by said computer.
7. The method of claim 1 wherein said insurance product options
comprise original or replacement life insurance, health insurance,
and long term care insurance products.
8. The method of claim 7 wherein said life insurance products comprise
term life insurance products.
9. The method of claim 1 wherein said step of collecting said preliminary
information is performed by an insurance broker and said step of
generating one or more insurance product options is performed by
said broker or by a party registered to use the method.
10. The method of claim 9 further comprising the step of submitting
said pre-application to a service provider for conversion to an
insurance application for said selected product provided by a particular
insurance company using additional information collected from said
11. The method of claim 10 wherein said service provider is a call
center that specializes in paramedic services.
12. The method of claim 10 further comprising the step of showing
the status of said insurance application.
13. The method of claim 10 further comprising the step of submitting
said insurance application to said particular insurance company
14. The method of claim 13 further comprising the step of preparing
a payment invoice for the completion of said insurance application
and delivering said invoice to a paying party wherein said paying
party comprises said broker, an insurance general agent, or said
particular insurance company.
15. The method of claim 1 further comprising verifying the availability
of broker information.
16. The method of claim 15 wherein said broker information comprises
broker licensing appointments, commission tracking numbers broker
signatures, and broker background checks.
17. A method for preparing insurance applications comprising the
steps of: a) collecting preliminary information from an applicant;
b) generating one or more insurance product options based on said
preliminary information utilizing a first rules-based software application;
c) verifying the availability of insurance broker information using
a second rules-based software application; d) selecting of one of
said one or more products, and; e) electronically merging said preliminary
information and said selected product to create a pre-application.
18. The method of claim 17 wherein said steps a) through e) are
carried out by an insurance broker that has subscribed to use the
19. The method of claim 17 wherein said step a) is carried out
by an insurance broker who outsources steps b) through e) for completion
by a service provider that has subscribed to use the method.
20. The method of claim 17 wherein said preliminary information
includes said applicant's age, state of residence, insurance amount,
gender and health class.
21. The method of claim 17 wherein said insurance broker information
comprises licensing appointments, commission tracking numbers, broker
signatures, and broker background information.
22. The method of claim 18 or 19 further comprising launching said
pre-application to a service provider that has subscribed to use
the method using an insurance application order form, and monitoring
the fulfillment of a resulting insurance application based on said
23. The method of claim 22 wherein said steps of launching and
monitoring are performed electronically from broker workstations.
24. The method of claim 22 further comprising the step of preparing
a payment invoice for the completion of said application and delivering
said invoice to a paying party wherein said paying party comprises
said broker, an insurance general agent, or an insurance company.
25. The method of claim 24 further comprising reimbursement of
a part or all of said payment invoice amount to said broker for
the fulfillment of an insurance policy.
26. The method of claim 17 wherein said insurance product options
comprise term life, health, or long-term care options.
27. A system for preparing insurance applications comprising: software
for collecting preliminary information from an applicant; a database
of insurance product options; rules-based application software for
matching said preliminary information with said insurance product
options using a library of questions also contained in said database;
and a communications module to interface a central control hub with
subscriber workstations to provide for information transfer and
outsourcing to a service provider of insurance application fulfillment
for said applicant.
28. The system of claim 27 wherein said subscriber is a broker,
insurance company, or service provider.
29. The system of claim 27 wherein said insurance product options
includes state specific insurance company application forms, descriptions
of said forms, and codes for use in matching said preliminary information
with said insurance offerings, wherein said forms comprise life,
health, and long term care insurance forms.
30. The system of claim 27 further comprising software for data
validation, insurance quote calculation, verification of subscriber
information, third party communication, and management of data collected
during said outsourcing, wherein said data management includes updating
insurance policy application status in said central control hub.
31. The system of claim 27 wherein said database also houses subscriber
information, applicant information, insurance policy application
status information, and data collected during said outsourcing.
32. The system of claim 31 wherein said subscriber information
includes business address information, at least one phone number,
a scanned image of said subscriber's signature, insurance licensing
information, general agent contract information, and at least one
credit card number.
33. The system of claim 31 wherein said applicant information includes
personal information and insurance policy selection information,
and wherein said personal information includes name, address, at
least one telephone number, date of birth, and gender.
34. The system of claim 33 wherein said insurance policy selection
information comprises a particular insurance policy form selected
by said applicant, the type of said insurance, the face amount of
said insurance policy, and at least one beneficiary designation.
35. The system of claim 34 wherein said type of insurance is life,
health or long-term care insurance.
36. The system of claim 34 wherein said insurance policy form is
a replacement insurance policy form.
37. The system of claim 31 wherein said insurance policy application
status information comprises information received by said central
control hub regarding the status of said insurance application including
the date said insurance application status is updated, a description
of how the status has changed, and notes associated with each status
38. The system of claim 27 wherein said service provider is a call
center specializing in paramedic services.
39. A system for outsourcing insurance policy application fulfillment
comprising a control hub that comprises computer software and hardware,
said computer software and hardware comprising: a processing module
comprising software programs for: retrieving and processing data
relating to insurance application transaction data, matching insurance
applicant information with insurance application form requirements,
verifying the availability of insurance broker information, and
displaying said insurance policy applications and their status to
subscribing parties; a communications module for providing the exchange
of data and information across said software programs and between
subscribing parties and said control hub; and a memory module for
housing said insurance application transaction data, said software
programs, and a database management system for storing information
comprising subscriber and applicant information.
40. The system of claim 39 wherein said insurance application transaction
data comprises said applicant information, insurance company forms
and related rules, status updates for processing of said insurance
applications, and data collected by service providers during completion
of said insurance policy application fulfillment.
41. The system of claim 39 wherein said subscribing parties comprise
brokers, insurance companies or service providers that have paid
a one time fee or per transaction subscription fee for processing
insurance policy applications.
42. The system of claim 39 wherein said insurance broker information
comprises broker licensing and appointment information, commission
tracking numbers, insurance general agent contracts, and broker
43. The system of claim 39 further comprising software for generating
an invoice for the completion of each insurance policy application
that is fulfilled by an insurance company, and delivering said invoice
to a reimbursing party for partial or complete reimbursement to
a subscribing party of said one time fee or per transaction subscription
44. The system of claim 43 wherein said reimbursing party is an
insurance general agent or insurance company.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention relates to the field of insurance.
Specifically, the present invention relates to a system and method
of improving the fulfillment of insurance applications to decrease
underwriting time. The method utilizes a partially-automated rule-based
process to reduce data entry and processing errors.
 The vast majority of insurance policies, and, in particular,
life insurance policies, are obtained through an insurance agent
or broker who often represents multiple insurance companies. These
brokers must track an array of products and underwriting requirements
related to each individual insurance company. To complicate matters,
the application forms that must be completed to apply for a policy
vary by insurance company, state, and product. Because most brokers
may only sell a few policies each year with any one insurance company,
they lack the repetition and familiarity necessary to fully understand
how to properly complete each insurance company's forms. This confusion
may lead to data entry and processing errors, which result in costly
underwriting delays and lost sales opportunities. Because the life
insurance application is the trigger mechanism that initiates underwriting
processes, such as paramedical exams, motor vehicle reports and
physician statements, it is critical that the application be completed
 Numerous solutions have been developed to address one or
more aspects of the fulfillment of life insurance applications.
U.S. Published Patent Application No. 2001/0049611 to Peach claims
a fully automated system for storing insurance forms and permitting
consumers to directly complete electronic insurance application
forms. Unfortunately, consumers know less than brokers about completing
life insurance applications. Systems that rely on consumers to properly
complete insurance company's forms have simply generated more mistakes
and underwriting delays than previously.
 U.S. Published Patent Application No. 2002/0120474 to Hele
et al. claims a system for electronically obtaining an insurance
application that can be completed without any broker interaction.
Again, this system relies on a consumer fulfillment model, which
continues to produce data entry errors and incomplete forms. Other
automated systems for inputting data into an insurance application
do exist in the industry. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,831,526 to
Fuchs et al. provides a system and method of inputting client information
into a database and provides contract printing capabilities. However,
this method, specified for the property and casualty industry, does
not reduce the data entry and processing errors made by brokers
and therefore does not decrease the cost of issuing a life insurance
 Therefore, it would be desirable to provide a system and
method which is able to reduce the errors made by brokers in the
processing of insurance applications and further which alleviates
the need for each broker to be familiar with the state and product
specific forms for each insurance underwriter.
 The present invention provides a partially automated insurance
application fulfillment system and method. The system and method
provides a single, insurance company independent "pre-application"
process and facilitates the outsourcing of the application to a
service provider for the completion of the insurance application.
The invention also provides for the monitoring of each application
being processed through an automated control hub.
 In one embodiment of the invention, personal information
about an insurance applicant is gathered by a broker in a pre-application,
and a rules-based application provides one or more insurance options,
based on the processing of the information. Importantly, the rules-based
application confirms broker licensing and commission information
prior to providing any available insurance products. The broker
is then able to select the applicant's chosen option, and a pre-application
is created and forwarded to a control hub. The pre-application is
outsourced to a service provider for the completion of the appropriate
forms based on the particular insurance company chosen, the specific
insurance product being purchased and the state of residence of
the insured. A control hub is provided and may be utilized as a
monitoring facility to allow the broker, the service provider, the
insurance general agent and the insurance company to track the progress
of the application process.
 The present invention specifies a system and method for
the insurance application process which meets the goals of reducing
broker data processing errors and alleviating the need for insurance
brokers to be familiar with a large number of varying insurance
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 illustrates a flow diagram of the entire standard
process of the present invention.
 FIG. 2 illustrates the broker profile set-up process.
 FIG. 2a illustrates the broker license and commission set-up
 FIG. 2b illustrates the insurance General agent set-up process.
 FIG. 2c illustrates the digital signature set-up process.
 FIG. 3 illustrates a client profile quote engine input screen.
 FIG. 3a illustrates an example quote output screen.
 FIG. 4 illustrates a pre-application screen.
 FIG. 5 illustrates a replacement questions screen.
 FIG. 6 illustrates an agent report screen.
 FIG. 7 illustrates an order review screen.
 FIG. 8 provides a diagram of the control hub.
 FIG. 9 illustrates a status screen.
 FIG. 9a illustrates an application image screen.
 FIG. 9b illustrates data collection during a tele-interview.
 FIG. 10 illustrates a pre-application release screen.
 FIGS. 11-16, 18-19 provide a running flow diagram of one
embodiment of the system and method.
 FIG. 17 illustrates information transfer and application
status capabilities according to one embodiment of the system and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION
 The system and method of the present invention provide a
partially automated, broker-initiated, insurance company-independent
method of completing insurance applications using rules-based applications
and other supporting computer software and hardware. The method
is initiated through the completion of an insurance pre-application
form and the monitoring of the insurance application fulfillment
 Pre-Application Process
 FIG. 1 illustrates one embodiment of the method in broad,
exemplary terms. The broker must first be registered with and a
subscriber to the system and method. If the broker tries to initiate
a transaction using the system and method 100, and has not yet subscribed,
the broker will have to complete a Subscriber Profile Setup 101.
The broker is then able to generate insurance quotes for a client
120 and complete an insurance pre-application 121.
 FIG. 2 illustrates registration information collected from
the broker at a remote work station. To register, the broker also
provides certain licensing and appointment information. Preferably,
the broker provides licensing, appointment, commission tracking
numbers and selects one or more General Agent(s) (also referred
to as Broker General Agent, or "BGA") as illustrated on
FIGS. 2a and 2b. This broker registration process generates a broker
subscriber profile. The broker subscriber profile is stored within
a database management system ("DBMS"). The broker may
also be required to submit a handwritten signature, as illustrated
on FIG. 2c, to an image collection and processing system for later
use as a digital copy of the broker's signature in completing applications.
This image of the broker's signature is also stored within the broker's
subscriber profile. The image of the broker's signature is electronically
inserted, where required, onto the insurance company's application
forms. This insertion occurs upon completion of each applicant's
application and prior to the submission of the application to the
providing insurance company.
 Referring to FIG. 11, once the broker has registered, the
broker is able to initiate an insurance transaction 100 by logging
on to the system and entering an identification code and pass code
110. Software of the system of the present invention provides a
check on brokers and other parties logging onto the system for valid
user ID and pass code 200, subscriber account status 201, and authorization
to use the method 202. Continuing onto FIG. 12, if the system recognizes
a valid user ID and pass code, the system also verifies the existence
of a broker subscriber profile and digital image of the broker's
signature in memory in the database 203.
 Referring to FIG. 12, if certain of the broker's subscriber
profile information and/or signature have not been collected, the
system initiates the process to collect that missing information
204. Otherwise, the broker may now use the system and method to
initiate an insurance pre-application 205.
 Brokers are contacted by, or contact applicants (also referred
to as "clients") that wish to obtain insurance. The client's
personal information is entered into a personal quote profile form
using an on-line interface 220, shown on FIGS. 3 and 12. The client's
personal data may include, but is not limited to: the client's date
of birth, benefit amount, tobacco use, health class estimate, the
resident state, term length and gender. Different criteria may be
used, depending upon the type of insurance desired. The client's
health class is preferably classified as preferred plus, preferred,
standard, preferred tobacco user, or tobacco user, and/or any other
health classification system used by life insurance companies or
underwriters. Referring once again to FIG. 12, if the client is
a new client, the broker enters the client's first and last name
into the system 206, and the information is stored in a new record
in the system database 207. If the client is an existing client,
the broker pulls the client's information from the system 210 based
on the client's name 209 that is on the broker's client list 208.
Alternatively, a subscribing broker may request that a third party,
also a subscriber to the present system and method, initiate the
method at the pre-application stage 205. According to this embodiment
of the present invention, the broker faxes the client's personal
information to the third party for entry into the system.
 Referring now to FIG. 13, the client's personal quote profile
is fed into a rules-based system, where it is matched against the
offerings of a plurality of insurance companies, based on the desired
insurance product and the availability of that product from each
insurance company in the applicant's state of residence 300. A software
program, as part of the rules-based system, retrieves 301 and displays
302 a list of insurance products that fit the client's profile.
The rules-based system relies on a database within the system that
houses insurance company profiles and product information using
mortality tables, state approvals, policy fees and health class
criteria. Upon confirmation, the system displays 302, as shown in
FIG. 3a, the proper quote (also known as premium amount) based on
the client's profile for each insurance company offering the appropriate
product. Next to each quote is an "apply button". As shown
on FIG. 13, by selecting an insurance product for the client 303,
the apply button launches the broker into the pre-application process
304 whereby pre-application questions are displayed on the broker's
or other subscribing users screen 305.
 The service implemented by the system and method may be
offered to brokers on a subscription basis or may be charged for
on a per-application basis. FIG. 11 illustrates that for an active
broker account, the broker has provided for a method of paying the
subscription fee or transaction fee 203. Referring briefly to FIG.
18, as will be discussed later in more detail, the method of paying
the fee facilitates payment once a payment request 805 is generated
by the system. A payment request 805 is not generated until the
system receives a status update 803 indicating that a complete insurance
application has been signed by the client 801, an electronic image
of the application has been made 801, and the data and image have
been stored in the system database file 802. Registered brokers
are reimbursed all or a portion of each subscription fee or pre-application
transaction fee by the insurance company and/or the brokers' General
agent(s) involved in the application process 807. Preferably, brokers
are only reimbursed when an insurance policy initiated by the present
method is placed in force. According to another embodiment, an insurance
company or General agent pays the subscription and/or pre-application
transaction fee up front and the broker is not billed.
 Shown on FIG. 13, the method of the present invention provides
the broker with a single point of entry 305 for the initiation of
the pre-application. FIG. 4 illustrates an example of this single
point of entry known as a pre-application screen. Referring again
to FIG. 13, the pre-application screen automatically selects the
quote profile results and transfers it onto the pre-application
form 304. The broker then enters their client's contact information
into the on-line pre-application form 304, 305. Referring to FIG.
14, the client's information is stored in the system database 400.
This information includes, for example, phone numbers, contact preference,
resident time zone, replacement questions, and owner and beneficiary
designations. If the applicant has decided to replace an existing
policy 401, software, as part of the underlying system, dynamically
retrieves 402 and displays 403 the insurance company's State specific
replacement questions in the pre-application form. These replacement
questions are stored in the database and only appear to the broker
if the replacement question, located on the pre-application (see
FIG. 4), is answered, "yes". FIG. 5 illustrates a sample
replacement question screen.
 Referring to FIGS. 14 and 15, after entry of this information,
a broker is directed to an insurance company specific agent report
404 where the broker is required to record a valid license number
500, 501 to designate a licensed insurance General agent 502, 503,
and complete a brief agent questionnaire 504. This report is completed
and confirmed by the broker using an agent report screen, as illustrated
on FIG. 6. Returning to FIG. 15, upon validation of the broker's
licensing and other information 505, the information is stored in
the system database 506, and the broker is directed to a pre-application
order screen(as shown in FIG. 7). The broker may then review the
pre-application, edit the information if necessary 507, and, upon
satisfaction, submit the order to a service provider for fulfillment
of the insurance application 600 (as shown on FIG. 16.).
 Referring to FIG. 16, upon submission by the broker 600,
according to the preferred embodiment, the pre-application order
is converted into XML format 601, the information stored in the
system database 602, encrypted, and securely passed through the
"control hub" through communication, via system software,
with the service provider's external software 603, 604. FIG. 8 provides
a schematic of the control hub. The control hub automatically stores
a record of the transaction in the system database 606 and, according
to one embodiment of the present invention, may optionally generate
a transaction fee which is charged to a subscribing party, and preferably
charged directly to the broker's credit card 806, as illustrated
on FIG. 18. Alternatively, the broker's insurance General agent
or the participating insurance company may be billed directly.
 Preferably, the application for insurance is completed by
a service provider. However, the status of each application is monitored
via the control hub that receives and transmits status updates,
notifications, and other information to and from the various parties
using the system and method. Referring to FIG. 9, an example of
a status screen is shown, providing the dates of each application
transaction, the status of the application at that point, and any
comments the status provider wishes to input. A broker can log into
the system, as shown on FIG. 11, preferably using a secure pass
code 110, and determine a plethora of information regarding the
processing of the application, such as, for example, when the pre-application
XML order was received by a service provider, when the applicant
was initially contacted the date the application interview was completed,
the express mail tracking number of the signed application mailed
back to the service provider, the paramedical examination completion
date, when the application was signed by the applicant and the date
the image and data where transmitted back to the broker for final
review. As illustrated on FIG. 17, XML files containing status information
are transmitted between service providers, brokers, and other third
parties and the control hub 700. The computer-based control hub
acts like a "traffic cop" to manage and direct the flow
of data to and from all parties involved in the application transaction
using a series of computer systems, databases, and communication
protocols to actively interchange data. The end result is a single
source of information for up-to-the-minute status of a pre-application
order. The pre-application process, supported by the control hub,
is easily used by one with ordinary skill in the use of a computer.
 The XML files are stored in a database 701, as shown on
FIG. 17. Certain status XML files may trigger notification of the
subscriber or broker that initiated the pre-application process
702. The system includes software that is programmed to send electronic
messages 703, 704 to the subscriber based on changes to data in
XML files sent to the control hub that affect the client's insurance
application. These electronic messages that may be spawned throughout
the application process based on changes in client data and information
may require attention by the subscribing party before the application
process can proceed. By way of example, if an applicant changes
an insurance beneficiary during a third party interview, that changed
information will generate a message to the broker via the communications
interface, notifying the broker of the change. Thereafter, the broker
may counsel the applicant on the beneficiary change before proceeding
with the insurance application. At any time during the process,
a subscriber can retrieve 705 and view 706 status records.
 Referring to FIG. 18, a service provider completes the application
process by obtaining the remaining information required for the
insurance application from various parties. The service provider
may be associated with the broker, or may be a contractor, or any
other third party. The service provider is preferably familiar with
the forms required for insurance applications, and is knowledgeable
in the completion of the correct insurance forms with the appropriate
data. More preferably, the service provider is a call center that
specializes in paramedic services. The service provider is responsible
for contacting the applicant, based on the applicant's preferred
contact criteria as specified in the pre-application, and collecting
the information required to complete the application 800. The service
provider may optionally reach out to other parties for data and
information necessary to complete insurance policy applications
according to the present system and method. FIG. 1 illustrates the
use of a call center 140 to fulfill the application, and various
other parties that the call center 140 may utilize in the process,
for example, paramedic vendors 125, laboratories for analysis of
medical testing 126, financial institutions, etc.
 Referring again to FIG. 18, once the service provider receives
the signed application back from the applicant 801, the method stores
an imaged copy of the application along with a copy of the answers
(which were converted into XML data and again stored by the control
hub for future access) 802 given by the applicant during the interview
by the service provider. Status information is also transmitted
to the control hub 803. Importantly, the system and method also
provide for reimbursement to the broker (or other subscribing user
that initiates a transaction) for part or all of the transaction/subscription
fee. Once the system receives notice that application has been completed
803, a software program is initiated 804 which generates a payment
request 805, which is typically sent directly to the broker's/subscriber's
credit card processing facility 806. Once the payment confirmation
is received 807, the accounts receivable database is updated 900
(as shown on FIG. 19). Preferably, the all or a portion of the payment
is reimbursed by the insurance General agent or insurance company
approving the insurance application 808.
 Referring to FIG. 1, once the service provider has completed
the fulfillment of the insurance company's state application and
has obtained the proper applicant signatures 128, the broker can
access the control hub to electronically view the collected applicant
data, and an imaged copy of all forms that were completed, signed
by the applicant 124, optionally collected by a paramedical vendor
125, and returned by the applicant to the service provider 128,
and subsequently uploaded into the control hub 129. An example of
a complete imaged application as provided by the control hub is
available as FIG. 9a and the answers provided by the applicant during
the interview by the service provider are also available for review,
as shown on FIG. 9b.
 Referring to FIG. 19, the broker electronically receives
notice of a completed transaction 901. The broker may then access
902 the application image (FIG. 9a) and data (FIG. 9b) to review
it 903. Once the broker's review of the application is complete,
FIGS. 1 and 19 show the "releases" that may occur according
to the present invention, before the application is approved. The
broker releases the application 130 using a pre-application release
screen. A "release button" tells the control hub to electronically
forward the application and data onto the General agent 130 and/or
insurance company 131. A sample broker pre-application release screen
is provided on FIG. 10.
 As stated above, the system and method of the present invention
advantageously avoid all of the common data entry mistakes made
by brokers in the completion of an insurance application and alleviates
the need for brokers to become familiar with each individual insurance
company's forms. The method provides a single point of entry for
the broker to conveniently ask a few brief questions from their
client, complete a pre-application order form, and pass the responsibility
to a third party service provider for completion. In an alternative
embodiment, the broker passes the client personal information on
to a third party via facsimile or other communication method, and
the third party, a subscriber, completes the pre-application form.
Either way, the ease of use and advantages presented by this system
and method are needed in the industry.
 The control hub 122 keeps the broker, general agent, insurance
company, and any other subscribing parties, apprised of the status
of each pre-application transaction in progress. Because applications
are completed more accurately, the time delays that normally occur
with a traditional people-paper intensive process are eliminated.
As a result, the insurance industry can reduce underwriting costs
and issue policies faster than ever before using this method.
 Computer Subsystems
 FIG. 1 refers to the overall architecture of the control
hub 122. The control hub 122 is the total collection of computer
software programs and hardware that together, perform the functions
of the method. The control hub 122 is made up of three critical
modules that perform specific operations or tasks that are instrumental
to the process. These modules are Processing, Communications, and
 The Processing Module comprises proprietary software programs
that are responsible for retrieval, calculation and display of information
contained in the Memory Module. All information is displayed on
a subscriber's computer screen in a user friendly format. Examples
of such displays utilized in the method are provided as FIGS. 2
through 7, and 9 through 10. The subscriber's computer screen is
connected to the Internet. The Processing Module programs are comprised
of the following:
 a software program for data validation;
 a software program for calculating insurance quotes;
 a software program for dynamically creating and displaying
the questions relating to the pre-application process;
 a software program for communicating with third parties;
 a software program for managing the data collected the interview
and the scanned application image.
 The Communications Module is based on software that provides
the ability for disparate computer software programs to exchange
data bi-directionally. Communication may be established by and between
any entity that has subscribed to the method and/or is participating
in the pre-application transaction and the control hub. Referring
to FIG. 1, for example, through the Communication Module of the
control hub (not specifically illustrated), pre-application data
is submitted to a service party, in this case a third party call
center 140. Although not part of the present invention for illustration
purposes only, the call center 140 works to fulfill the application
by collecting applicant information, scheduling paramed exams, and
retrieving signed insurance application. The call center 140 initiates
communication with the control hub 122, through the Communication
Module, to provide the status of the application and a digital image
of the application. Still referring to FIG. 1, and part of the present
invention, the control hub 122 permits and provides access to application
information (a) for the broker for release of the application 130,
(b) the insurance General agent for release of the application 131,
and (c) the insurance company for approval and fulfillment of the
application 132, 133. Fault tolerance and data validation processes
are built into the communication interface to ensure predictable
and reliable dialogs between all parties. Furthermore, the communication
interface uses encryption technology to ensure and maintain the
strictest privacy of client personal information.
 The Memory Module stores data, software programs, and information
entered by a subscriber. The Memory Module contains data such as:
 information used in the calculation of insurance quotes;
 a library of questions associated with insurance company
 information related to the subscriber and his/her insurance
 information related to the insurance pre-application process;
 status information relating to the progress of the pre-application
 The insurance quotes are displayed on the subscriber's computer
screen 302 (see FIG. 13) after submission of the client's personal
quote via a software program for communicating between the control
hub and subscriber workstations through the Communications Module.
 The Memory Module also stores various computer software
programs including a data validation program, a program for calculating
insurance quotes, a program for dynamically creating and displaying
the questions relating to the pre-application process, a program
for communicating with third parties and a program for managing
the data collected the interview and the scanned application image.
 In addition, the Memory Module stores the database management
system (DBMS) that houses information about the entities participating
in the insurance application process as well as information about
the client interested in buying the insurance and information related
to the clients who have previously applied for insurance. The DBMS
includes tables for storing information about, for example:
 the participating insurance companies and the insurance
products that are available under the pre-application process;
 the mortality costs and specifications related to the insurance
products that are available under the pre-application process and
are used to calculate an insurance quote;
 the questions associated with insurance company application
 the participating service providers such as those that operate
the call-center facilities associated with the interview process;
 the subscribers who have contracted to use the method;
 the clients who have chosen to apply for an insurance policy;
 the status information relating to the progress of the pre-application
process for each transaction;
 the data which was collected during the client telephone
 and the scanned image of the signed application that is
created by the call center.
 The table of information about the subscribers preferably
 business mailing address information for the subscriber;
 business phone numbers for the subscriber;
 at least one scanned image of the subscribers signature;
 insurance license numbers for the subscriber;
 the subscriber's managing general agent(s); and
 credit card information for the subscriber.
 The table of information about the client preferably includes:
 name, mailing address, phone numbers, occupation, data of
birth, social security number, gender, height, weight, and drivers
license number, and information concerning the insurance policy
that the client has selected, including the life insurance company,
the type of policy, the face amount of the policy, the amount of
the annual payment, and any special information associated with
the purchase of the insurance policy.
 The table of information associated with insurance company
application forms preferably includes:
 the insurance company name, the insurance company form number,
the file name for the form, a description of the form, the state
in which the form is authorized to be used, the questions from the
form, a code to determine if the question is related to policy replacement,
and a code to determine if the question is related to the agent
report portion of the form.
 The table of information associated with the pre-application
transaction status preferably includes the date each status entry
was created, the transaction description and notes associated with
each particular transaction.
 Other information may be stored in the DBMS during the course
of the pre-application process and the administration of the process.
Additionally there may be information needed to provide customer
support, and it would be readily apparent to those of skill in the
art that such additional information, computer software, or database
management would be necessarily included as part of the present
 The foregoing illustrations of embodiments of the present
invention are offered for the purposes of illustration and not limitation.
It will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art that the
embodiments described herein may be modified or revised in various
ways without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.
The scope of the invention is to be measured by the appended claims.