“The insurance industry is still in its infancy with regards to digitisation”: Interview with Getsafe’s CEO, Christian Wiens

There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has been a catalyst for digitisation. We’ve witnessed the rise of fintech, the explosion of edtech and the vast spread of ‘fit-tech’ to keep us moving during the quarantine. But what about the global insurance industry?

Historically, the insurance industry has been slow to innovate. And, for many of us, it’s synonymous with a bad user experience, overpriced plans and outdated business models. However, change is coming.

The pandemic has radically disrupted the industry, with 85% of insurance CEOs say that “COVID-19 has accelerated the digitization of their operations and the creation of next-generation operating models”. By 2025, the market is expected to reach a breath-taking $6390.73 billion in value with a CAGR of 6%.

Christian Weiner, CEO of German-born insurtech Getsafe is at the forefront of innovation within the industry. As a serial entrepreneur and having been named one of this year’s top financial tech CEO’s he knows a thing or two about disruptive innovation and is using his experience to guide the Getsafe team who are now serving over 175,000 customers.

We interviewed Christian to find out more about innovation in the insurance industry and Getsafe’s progress.

Getsafe is on a mission to reinvent how people do insurance. Why is now the time for the insurance industry to drastically change?

The insurance industry is one of the few industries that is still in its infancy with regards to digitisation. This is surprising, given the fact that there is a new generation of policyholders with new needs. Digital natives want to purchase and manage their insurance coverage independently of time and place; they want an uncomplicated and transparent mobile-first insurance experience on their smartphone.

Although more and more insurers are working on the option of an online policy or an app, it’s almost always a half-hearted attempt to make paper based products a bit more digital. This does not work. Getsafe, on the other hand, fully meets the expectations of the younger generation, who are used to being able to access information and services anywhere and at any time of day at the push of a button.

You say that for the first time in history there’s the technological possibility to build a truly global insurance company. What would this mean for those looking to buy insurance?

While insurance is one of the biggest industries in the world, traditional insurance companies operate in a local setup. They offer locally dependent products and use local sales channels, for example through brokers or agents. It is also difficult for them to put customer feedback and data into action as it stems from several different operative units. Said plainly, much of the data actually stays with the brokers and never reaches the insurance company to begin with.

Furthermore, they lack the IT infrastructure that works on the global level, because they carry a lot of dead weight within their old, incompatible systems. The fact that insurance is oftentimes divided into property, life, and health branches, all of which use different systems, does not help. This means that even if these insurers had access to all of the data, they do not possess the infrastructure needed to comprehensively pool customer data in a single interface in order to work with it. This is why a tech monopoly has not happened in insurance yet.

Insurtechs like Getsafe can show the way here. We have founded Getsafe from scratch and combine technology with insurance. We have a modern tech stack and insurance know-how. Paperwork, complex jargon, long-term contracts – all these negative aspects of insurance are becoming a thing of the past. Instead, customers are managing their coverage on the smartphone, on their own, and in real-time. That way they’re more flexible and self-sufficient than ever before.

Getsafe has raised an impressive total of €43.8 million. What advice do you have for other founders looking to get funding, especially in the tech sector?

Insurance is a long-term play with a stable, proven business model that materializes over time. Fintechs usually acquire customers much faster, but they often use a freemium model. So it really depends on the company. I would say, look for investors that deeply understand your specific business model.

At 120+ employees, Getsafe boasts a diverse and growing team. What is the key to successfully growing a team whilst scaling?

In the last 12 months, our team doubled in size. This requires a higher level of professionalism and structure and also more focus on communication. Things that used to work in a smaller environment now need to be reconsidered. COVID made this growth more difficult, because we couldn’t meet as a whole team.

Many of us missed the personal encounters at table soccer, after-work parties or just an unplanned discussion in the kitchen. We established new virtual formats and the leadership talks to as many people as their time allows. We also invest a lot in personal growth, with leadership training and a personal budget for everyone to spend. I’m especially proud that we made all employees shareholders of Getsafe.

That was a huge step and a personal dream come true. Going forward, we need to make sure to also keep the entrepreneurial freedom, craziness and courage of the early Getsafe days.

You yourself became an entrepreneur at the age of 15 and have founded a series of ventures. What is it about entrepreneurship that keeps you hooked?

I’m a mechanical engineer by training, so I was always fascinated to build things that have an impact. It makes me proud to see so many happy customers, and I really feel that with Getsafe, we make their lives easier and a bit better. Plus I like to shape the company culture that I work in. So if I weren’t building Getsafe, I would build another startup.

Getsafe is already active in two markets: Germany and the UK. Are there any plans for further expansion in the near future?

From 2022 onwards, Getsafe will be focusing on further European markets. We had originally planned to expand earlier, but COVID and everything that came with it has complicated things. So we decided that we will be exhausting Germany’s and the UK’s market potential in property insurance first of all, but of course we’re looking way beyond that.

Europeans aged between 20-35 years old now represent one of the largest demographics and will buy an astonishing one billion new insurance policies by 2030. That’s why our goal is to capitalise on this opportunity. In the UK, our second market, we are pleased to see that – despite the difficult situation – our business is already growing twice as fast as it did in Germany when we launched.