Life insurance is one of those things that most of us don’t think about until we can’t help thinking about it. Usually something like a tragedy is what it takes to get us to recognize how important it is to make sure things are taken care of in case something happens to us and, luckily, in those moments there are companies like LifeQuotes4U.
LifeQuotes4U was founded by Rick Plews, whose own tragic loss at a young age inspired him to go into the life insurance field. A professional with more than a decade and a half in the insurance business, Rick is aiming to disrupt the way that people buy life insurance in a major way. He’s a firm believer in empowering individuals to make their own decisions about what plan meets their needs, rather than going in for the hard sell as is customary.
I had a lovely chat with Rick recently about life insurance quotes, why he’s passionate about what he does, the scene in south Manchester, England, and what he misses as a result of being an entrepreneur.
What inspired you to start LifeQuotes4U?
Probably personal reasons more than anything. It dates back to 1992 when, unfortunately, my old man died. He had a decent business at the time but it ceased trading at that point. All of a sudden we were left in a very different situation.
That was a big shock to the system, really, obviously emotionally but also financially. That’s kind of inherent with the decisions I’ve made professionally.
I’ve brokered life insurance over the past 15 years on an advice basis and I’ve recognized a move away from the advice side of the business towards an online platform where people can make informed decisions based on what they’ve got in front of them and don’t necessarily want or need full-blown advice. They’d rather retain control and do it themselves.
When did you make that switch into the online space?
In my mind it was May of 2012 and since that point onwards I suppose it’s been since September 2012 that we’ve actually been putting it all together.
Do you guys have an office?
Yeah, we have an office. I’m in it now. It’s quite a big office in South Manchester. We work next to a couple of other businesses that operate in similar ways.
It’s a big office, full of people, and this section of the office is all LifeQuotes4U. I’ve got a development team on my left here; a couple of coders and designers. There’s a marketing department next to them and so we have a rather busy office, which is nice.
What’s special about LifeQuotes4U? Why should someone use you guys rather than any other life insurance company?
What we’ve based it on is creating a website that is less of a sales tool or capture form and more of an information center for people to go on and understand what life insurance is and what their options are without being pressured into taking a particular policy out.
There’s no pressure to expect a callback or get advice. The website is set up so someone can finish the process from start to finish. They can read about life insurance, decide on what they want, get a quote from the market, and complete the application. There’s no necessity for a call center or a salesman to call that individual throughout the process. It’s up to them to complete, unless of course they want assistance and do have questions, in which case we’ll happily contact them.
I think the website provides the means for people to complete the process at their own pace without being forced in a particular direction. Most of the competitors will not operate in that way. They will seek to get information from the customer, call them back, and then close them on a phone call and convert them that way, whereas we’re here to help people make informed decisions as opposed to selling stuff.
I have to say, as someone in my twenties, I’ve never thought about buying life insurance.
There are lifestyle changes that most of us go through where life insurance becomes the forefront. In the UK, the culture is one of a mortgage culture so if a couple has gone to the bank and secured a mortgage for themselves of say a hundred thousand pounds, all of a sudden they start thinking, “Well, if one of us wasn’t around anymore, could we afford the payments? How could we pay the mortgage off?”
As people secure mortgages, life insurance certainly comes into play. Another lifestyle event might be marriage. A couple gets married. Let’s just say she continues to work and he looks after the house. What happens if she dies? He’s dependent on her income. If she was to die, it kind of leaves him high and dry so there’s a dependent there. One side of the couple is dependent on the other.
Finally and probably most commonly is when you have kids, like I’ve got. If I’m not around, they’re knackered. My wife can’t work – well, she can but she doesn’t at the moment.
A lot of people are in a similar situation with young kids. You go to work to insure that your kid’s future is secure. I think when you have children you start to realize that perhaps you’re not the most important thing in the world anymore. Your kids are.
It’s an unselfish product, isn’t it, if you think about it? You pay and you know you’ll never see the benefit because if it is being paid, that means you’re dead. It’s a very unselfish product and we really try to take that into account when developing this business.
The mindset of the people that have come to our website is one of unselfishness. They’re not doing it for themselves; they’re doing it for other people and I think they deserve credit for that and don’t deserve to be sold policies.
What’s your favorite part about owning your own business?
I find it exciting. I find it exhilarating. I enjoy the pressure and the success that you get out of it. The last nine months have taught us all that there’s almost no end to the amount of work you can put into setting up a business. It just continues to grow: no matter how much work you did yesterday, there’s always more to do tomorrow.
That’s hard work and it’s stressful but when you start seeing the results, it’s satisfying. Those results have come from extremely hard work.
And what’s your least favorite thing about having your own business.
Um… Well, at the moment I’d like to play a bit more golf. (Laughs) That would be it! There aren’t many downsides. That’s the way I see it.
Excellent, that’s a great answer. Do you have anything you’d like to add before I let you go?
Well, we have ambitious but realistic goals for the business. I think as long as we execute ethically and realistically, we’ll become the UK’s leading broker of life insurance by 2018.
Good luck, Richard! We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on you!