GetSafe received a funding boost at the start of last month and now plans to expand across Europe targeting the region's millennials with insurance
Mobile apps are run-of-the-mill for insurance companies looking to branch out and appeal to a millennial demographic, but GetSafe has decided to go one step further and exist only on mobile.
Despite the German firm having a website, insurance policies can only be bought through the GetSafe mobile app, which CEO Christian Wiens tells NS Insurance is by design, because its target market is Generation Y – the demographic born between 1981 and 2000 and known more commonly as millennials.
He says: “We call ourselves a neo-insurance company, which is a comparison to the neo-banks like Monzo and Starling, because we really create engagement in our mobile app.
“Most of the other players you see out there have almost no usage of their apps, if they even have one, whereas 98% of our customers are using our app because we are an app-only provider.
“Our average customer is 29 years old, and 75% of them are buying insurance for the first time having held no policies or touchpoints with an insurance company before.
“Besides Lemonade in the US, we’re the only one building a mobile-first insurance company for the millennial generation.”
The insurtech firm received $17m in funding in early June led by European tech-focused venture capital fund Earlybird.
We take a look at GetSafe’s journey from start-up to scale-up and find out about its European ambitions.
Many insurtech companies have founders from diverse backgrounds who come into the industry to solve a problem, and for Christian this is exactly what happened, having already experienced success as an entrepreneur.
“During my engineering studies I founded my first start-up in the B2B software space and that grew pretty quickly – I had some big investors like Lakestar and Holtzbrinck Ventures,” he says.
“The company was in the small merchant restaurant space, which is very different from insurance, but it started a growing interest in areas of tech where disruption levels can be really high.”
Perhaps unlike other start-ups, however, Christian met his GetSafe co-founder Marius Blaesing after replying to a Facebook meetup event in the hope of finding like-minded entrepreneurs.
Christian says: “We’re based in Heidelberg, which is typically a touristy area rather than a start-up hotspot like Berlin.
“Marius organised a meetup in Heidelberg for people interested in start-ups, and we were the only two people that showed up.
“We felt that we had the same mindset and we could leverage the region, which has some of the best tech universities, software companies like SAP, and a lot of smart people like mathematicians, so we decided to start a company here.”
What is GetSafe insurance?
Traditional insurance companies recognise the need to innovate and many partner with would-be disruptors in the industry to use them as a distribution channel – but for GetSafe, retaining end-to-end control of the insurance process is part of what makes it unique.
“From a formal, regulatory perspective, we’re a Managing General Agent (MGA), but we call ourselves a full-stack insurance company because although Munich Re is in the background providing capacity, it’s a neutral player that doesn’t really have its own products,” Christian says.
“We own everything throughout the whole value chain, from creating the product and the terms and conditions to managing all of the payments and claims.
“We also do all of the customer service and manage the balance sheet, because we share profits with Munich Re, whose subsidiary Great Lakes Insurance underwrites our policies.”
Like many insurtechs nowadays, GetSafe automates a lot of the insurance process using underwriting rules hard-coded into its system.
“We’ve set up all of the underwriting rules and we have an authority to underwrite ourselves, Great Lakes and Munich Re just provide the capacity,” he adds.
GetSafe began life as an insurance wallet
GetSafe didn’t always aspire to insure, and when it was founded in 2015 it was as an insurance wallet, aggregating policies from incumbent providers.
Christian says: “We would help gather the data about all of a user’s insurance policies from their carriers.
“We did this for a year and a half before realising that we weren’t able to provide the best service to our customers because we were dependent on the infrastructure of incumbent insurance companies.
“We felt like we were building a company on the fax machine and paper-based processes of the big insurance providers in Germany.
“If you want to create a better front-end experience for a customer, then you need to change the infrastructure in the back-end too – because that’s where the cause of the messy insurance experience lies.
“We decided we didn’t just want to be a wallet or a broker aggregating existing policies for customers, but that we needed to build our own insurance company that is full stack and mobile-first.”
GetSafe now serves insurance to more than 60,000 customers in Germany, with a total of 75,000 policies in force.
GetSafe plans insurance products for life stages
Insurance companies have known for a long time that certain events in life act as triggers for specific insurance policies – life insurance taken out alongside home ownership or childbirth, for instance.
But for Christian, thinking in life stages is part of GetSafe’s strategy, informing the insurance products it creates.
He says: “Insurance is tremendously connected to life stages – when your first child is born, when you get married or have your first apartment or job, these are all important triggers to start thinking about protecting your wealth or family.
“We believe we’re getting to know our customers pretty early, and that between 20 and 40 years old most of the important life stages happen, so our product road map is aligned to those events.”
The first product the German insurtech released was private liability insurance, a type of coverage typically bought in the country when people hit 25 years old, according to Christian.
Other coverage currently includes legal, dental, drone and household contents insurance.
The next product he hopes to release in line with the life stages strategy is life insurance, with a travel health insurance product to follow that.
GetSafe plans to expand its insurance cover across Europe
GetSafe plans to expand into other European countries, especially those where it believes a mobile-first approach will have the most impact.
“Currently, we only operate in Germany, but we plan to expand into all of Europe, beginning at the end of this year and continuing the year after,” explains Christian.
“We are most advanced with the UK, because first of all our partner Munich Re is based there, and we also feel that market adoption for mobile-first financial services is much higher in the UK than in the rest of Europe.
“Of course the funding isn’t enough to become big all over Europe, but we can start to go live in other countries now.”