COVU, which is headquartered in California, means much more than a digital platform agents and brokers increasingly use and operate to streamline their operations. Safavi positions itself as a new model that combines elements well beyond a single technology platform (such as outsourcing).
“Typically, a platform is defined as a tool in the traditional sense of the way you are using it – software that an agency can start using, which is good, but the agent needs to learn how to use it to be successful,” said Safavi. “In our case, we are not giving a tool to the agent. We are handling his book for him. We are telling them that we will do all the work management for you, and this will help you grow. It will open up your time so you can do what you want to do.”
After fine-tuning by Safavi and his co-founders, COVU in its current form was launched in early 2022. Jumping from four employees in January to over 40 currently, it has quickly gained traction. The company also announced on August 17 that it had secured $10 million in seed funding to build and scale COVU. ManchesterStory Group led the round backed by angel and VC investors from the insurance and technology industries.
Safvi said that the money the company had initially asked for is double. Investor interest was higher than expected.
“We realized that there is a good demand from investors for this model,” Safavi said.
Funding’s success is worthwhile, Safavi explained, as he remains focused on the bigger picture.
“Being an entrepreneur, you are happy for a few days and then back into execution mode and you are on the lookout for the next big milestone,” he said.
COVU combines a platform with a surrogate who takes over the back-office.
The platform aims to help independent insurance agents and carriers better manage their risk and make better insurance decisions through AI-powered policy recommendations as well as professional service and sales reports. COVU calls this a “turnkey offering” where it takes ownership of front- and back-office functions so that insurance agents can focus more on building customer relationships, growing their business and adopting digital operations.
COVU combines mobile self-service with on-demand service from professionals when needed, the company explained. Agents offload their back-office and front-office processes using COVU’s technology infrastructure and systems. Also, with all client communications co-branded with the agent, policies and clients continue to be recorded in the carrier under the agency.
The platform is also designed to help agency/broker clients streamline their needs.
“It’s called an all-in-one AI-enabled platform because we have a spin in it as well,” Safavi said. “We think that in the future, AI will play a much stronger role in providing risk recommendations to help customers navigate their risk management and insurance management.”
COVU refers to agencies that act as partners on its platform, although it also considers the partners’ clients as its own.
“We see the end customer as the person who needs risk management and security. Agencies are our partners, and we help them better manage their clients together,” Safavi explained. “Once we work with agencies, we actually deal directly with clients.”
COVU does not integrate with its agency partners. Instead, it moves everything you need into its platform to organize and get started.
The point of sales is that agencies typically don’t have to spend more on COVU than they spend on managing their work.
First comes an exploration or discovery call with COVU’s production/technology team to discuss processes, requirements, drawbacks and data transfer. The parties also find out whether the agency has any employees who can be transferred to COVU as it handles back/front office functions.
The move is to ensure that services are not disrupted and prevent any agency layoffs as COVU ramps up. Safavi said that COVU hires any affected employees to help manage the back office.
“If they don’t have any service staff, we assign employees to the agency, so we help fill in all the gaps,” he explained.
Agencies don’t have to worry about API integration. However, COVU has its own API integration with other technology vendors.
Agencies can leave the arrangement whenever they want, and they still own each individual account. COVU manages everything else.
“We also have our own app that allows the customer to do self-service and everything else,” Safavi said. “Since we’re only one platform, we manage everything. The agent doesn’t have to worry about the “rest”.
Currently, COVU has multiple agency clients and already manages “millions of dollar premiums,” Safavi said.