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Declaration of Independents: Spike Lipkin

Spike Lipkin started Newfront INsurance after feeling frustrated by the buying process. “I remember thinking, ‘here’s a product that is integral to our economy and it's a totally broken customer experience,'" he explains.
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DOI_new.jpgSpike Lipkin

Co-founder and CEO

Newfront Insurance

San Francisco

Lipkin started the brokerage after feeling frustrated by the buying process while “sitting on the other side of the table,” he explains. “I remember thinking, ‘here’s a product that is integral to our economy and it's a totally broken customer experience.”

Alongside his co-founders, an experienced producer and a software engineer from MIT, the trio was unimpressed by the client experience of major brokerages and launched Newfront from Lipkin’s living room. Since then, the company has grown into a 200-person modern brokerage that is using its own software to “transform risk management for our clients and deliver a world-class experience to our producers,” Lipkin says.

Fixing the customer experience?

We make it as easy as possible for clients to interact with us. We’ve digitized the submission process and make sure we're only asking every question once. At renewal, we pre-fill submissions and give clients a much simpler form. Once a prospect becomes a client, they have access to a dashboard where they can see their information, request and download certificates and endorsements, and manage schedules.

Building tech for brokers?

We've grown by attracting brokers from other firms that want a better platform for their clients. The technology that we've built is deliberately behind the scenes, solving typical headaches between brokerages and carriers and allowing our producers to spend more time delivering value to their clients. As an example, we built a digital, interactive system that records carrier appetite and where we’re seeing the best pricing and coverage for our clients.

Serving every customer?

Building technology does not mean that we only work with tech-savvy clients, it means that we can work with clients in whatever manner they want. For instance, if they want paper certificates mailed to them, we can accommodate that with our technology, just as we can email pdf’s or they can download their certs from our customer portal. 

Biggest lesson learned?

Early on we studied a producer’s emails and found half of their emails are status updates. Things like, "Hey, where are we with this customer?" or "Where are we with this quote?" Our technology pulls all up-to-the-minute status signals into a dashboard where sales and service people can easily stay on top of all projects and get off each others’ backs. We are consolidating information in a transparent way that benefits the clients, the producer, and the service team.

What challenges does the industry need to overcome?

It's hard for companies that are used to operating one way to turn around and suddenly incorporate tons of technology and operate differently. We started our company from scratch because we felt like it was the right way to build a platform for producers and their clients.

Many conventional brokerages announce plans to incorporate technology, but I think that they underestimate how profound that change can be to their systems. While it's undoubtedly of critical importance, it's also a highwire act, like changing the engine on an airplane while it's flying over the Pacific. 

Will Jones is IA managing editor.


Thursday, December 3, 2020