There’s a strong insurtech pedigree behind COVU, an AI-enabled digital platform for insurance agencies that helps relieve them of much of the back- and front-office work.
CEO and co-founder Ali Safavi (pictured), for example, previously launched and grew the insurtech practice at Plug and Play – the largest global insurtech innovation platform and accelerator.
COVU, headquartered in California, is meant to be more than the digital platforms agents and brokers increasingly use and operate to streamline their operations. Safavi bills the company as a new model that combines elements well beyond a technology platform (such as outsourcing).
“Typically, what the platform is defined as in the traditional sense in the way that you’re using it is as a tool – software that an agency could start using, which is cool, but the agent needs to learn how to use it to be successful,” Safavi said. “In our case, we’re not giving the agent a tool. We are managing their book for them. We are telling them we’ll do your end-to-end work management for you, and it will help you grow. It will open up your time so you can keep doing what you want to do.”
COVU launched in its current form in early 2022, after fine-tuning by Safavi and his co-founders. It has gained traction quickly, jumping from four employees in January to more than 40 currently. The company also announced on Aug. 17 that it has secured $10 million in seed funding meant to build and scale COVU. ManchesterStory Group led the round, supported by angel and VC investors from the insurance and technology industries.
Safavi said the money is double what the company initially sought out. Investor interest surpassed expectations.
“We realized there is a good amount of demand from investors for this model,” Safavi said.
The funding success is meaningful, Safavi explained, adding 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’re looking for the next big milestone,” he noted.
COVU combines a platform with a surrogate that handles back-office work.
The goal of the platform is to help independent insurance agents and carriers better manage their risk and make smarter insurance decisions through AI-driven policy recommendations as well as business service and sales reports. COVU calls it a “turnkey offering” where it takes ownership of front and back-office tasks so insurance agents can focus more on building customer relationships, growing their business and embracing 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 system. At the same time, policies and customers continue to be recorded at the carrier under the agency, with all customer communication co-branded with the agent.
The platform is also designed to help agency/broker customers streamline their needs.
“It’s called an all-in-one AI-enabled platform because it also has our spin to it,” Safavi said. “We think in the future, AI will play a very strong role in providing risk recommendations to customers to help them navigate their risk management and insurance management.”
COVU refers to agencies that take on its platform as partners, though it also views the partners’ customers as their own.
“We see the end customer as the person who needs risk management and protection. The agencies are our partners, and we help them better manage their customers together,” Safavi explained. “Once we work with agencies, we actually deal with the customers directly.”
COVU doesn’t integrate with its agency partners. Rather, it moves everything it needs into its platform in order to organize and get started.
The sales pitch is that agencies don’t have to spend more on COVU than what they are typically spending on managing their work.
First comes an exploration or discovery call with COVU’s production/technology team to discuss processes, needs, gaps and data transfer. The parties also explore if the agency has any staff that could be moved over to COVU as it takes over back/front office functions.
That step is to ensure services aren’t disrupted and to prevent any agency layoffs as COVU ramps up. COVU hires any affected staff to help manage the back office, Safavi said.
“If they don’t have any service staff, we assign staff to the agency, so we help with filling in all the gaps,” he explained.
Agencies don’t need to worry about API integration. COVU has its own API integration with other tech vendors, however.
Agencies can leave the arrangement whenever they want, and they still own every individual account. COVU manages everything else.
“We even have our own app that is going to allow the customer to do self-service and everything else,” Safavi said. “Because we’re only one platform, we manage everything. The agent doesn’t have to worry about” the rest.
Currently, COVU has several agency customers and already manages “tens of millions of dollars of premium,” Safavi added.