Getsafe is reinventing insurance. The young insurtech startup from Heidelberg aims to transform the entire insurance industry. The company is focusing on digital solutions for this purpose: with just a few clicks, customers can take out insurance conveniently on their smartphone. Simple, transparent, fair, and above all, without any paperwork. CEO and co-founder Christian Wiens talks in an interview about the company’s beginnings, its strategy and its vision for the insurance industry of the future.
Christian, how does Getsafe differ from the competition?
Getsafe is a digital insurer that manages without complex contractual and paper chaos. Our heart is a mobile app that makes insurance tangible and immediate. Our customers have a monthly membership that they can purchase and manage on their smartphone. Our chatbot is available to customers around the clock to assist with questions of any kind. Instead of cumbersome damage reports via telephone or the broker, Getsafe offers a damage report within minutes. And while traditional insurers often take a long time to adjust policy documents, Getsafe allows policies to be changed, updated or cancelled in real time.
You describe yourself as a pioneer in the European InsurTech landscape and as the first global digital insurer to cover the full range of insurances. But you still have only three insurances with several modules…
That’s right. For now, we are investing significantly in our technology and platform. We are Europe’s first provider to be able to digitally map all areas of an insurance company in all three lines of insurance – property, life and health insurance. It will probably be a few years before we actually become a full insurer like Allianz or Axa, but the foundation has been laid. We are also growing within our target group, and we are already in the starting blocks with many of our new, innovative ideas are already in the works.
What was the motivation for founding the company?
Marius and I, as insurance customers, were disturbed by the fact that insurance is so complicated and slow. For most people, insurance is an necessary evil they don’t want to deal with. But insurances fulfill an important purpose. They help people protect themselves and their families against the dangers of everyday life. Getsafe has started to make these insurances attractive and lifelike again. We want to be a regular companion for our customers and protect what is close to their hearts.
How would you describe Getsafe in a few sentences?
Getsafe is a technology company active in insurance, and our goal is to improve the lives of our customers with technology. We’re trying to change a huge industry with a lean, innovative organization. To do this, we rely on our highly entrepreneurial and motivated team – on experts and visionaries who share our enthusiasm for what we do. Our day-to-day work is very dynamic and unbureaucratic. As a Getsafe team member, you need to be able to cope with this and work independently. Our success depends on everyone making a meaningful contribution toward our mission.
You were pretty successful right from the beginning. What was the biggest hurdle?
We grew too fast. Suddenly we had over 50 employees. That’s positive in itself. But our structures did not follow. At this point we had to take another step back and see what actually worked – and what didn’t. As a founder, I’ve learned a lot in such situations. In the end, we returned to the basic idea of digitalizing insurance at its core. With our original concept of a digital insurance broker, this was not possible because we were still dependent on cooperation with traditional insurance companies.
So you sold this part of the company to Verivox. Why?
Making insurance simple and convenient is one thing. With our app, customers could manage their existing insurance contracts all in one digital place. That was a real added value, and we had over 20,000 customers within a short period of time. But as a digital broker, we still had to struggle with the slow, paper-based processes of traditional insurers. And we wanted more. We wanted to be better. That’s why we decided to set up our own insurance company to create a completely new technology platform that massively simplifies the whole experience from the customer’s point of view.
You’ve started to see some traction. With the app, customers can insure themselves in real time within a few minutes, report and settle damages conveniently via smartphone. What’s next?
At the end of March our household contents, bicycle and mobile phone theft insurances will be available. This will expand our service portfolio. In addition, we want to create even greater value for our customers with our app.
You are concentrating primarily on graduates and young professionals. Why?
From an insurance perspective, young people have particularly great potential. At mid-20s, many people are underinsured or uninsured. At the same time, these people, who grew up in the digital age, are simply no longer attracted to many traditional market players. At Getsafe, we develop insurances for future generations, which we adapt to not only the new habits of life and communication, but also to the new life goals of these generations.
You were born in Heidelberg and have remained loyal to the location. Why didn’t you move to Berlin or another big city like most startups?
Heidelberg is really atypical for IT start-ups as a location. There are fewer investors and large competitors from industry here, and it’s harder to find creative people like designers. But Heidelberg is an extraordinary city. In the capital-rich USA and China, it is better known than most major German cities. Heidelberg is also one of Europe’s leading science locations with many great minds and, additionally, the location of SAP, Europe’s largest IT group. The entire region between Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Mannheim is home to a lot of industry and Germany’s best universities for engineers, scientists and business economists.
What main risks do you see for the coming years and how do you intend to solve them?
The insurance market is one of the last major sectors that has yet to truly arrive in the 21st century. So I’m not worried about the market and innovation potential. There are few digital insurers that are being newly founded because the barriers to entry are relatively high. The biggest risk lurks in our own organisation. We need many bright minds and must be prepared to learn from our mistakes. If we succeed in this and remain true to our vision, I am firmly convinced that we will not only successfully establish ourselves in the insurance market, but that we will also change it forever.