How One Berlin-Based Start-Up is Reshaping the Insurance Industry 

Startup

When you think of an insurtech start-up, you generally think of private insurance plans like private health insurance, travel insurance, life insurance, and other for-profit insurance plans. But, what if there was a start-up that was working with both private and public insurance plans in order to bring people the best possible insurance experience possible with free customer support? That’s Feather. 

The digital insurance companion 

They call themselves the digital insurance companion of Europe and have already expanded to the Spanish market with plans of taking on the Portuguese market soon. Feather was founded in 2018 by Rob Schumacher and Vincent Audoire after meeting at Entrepreneur First. Both of them had already moved to Germany before the conference and realized how broken the insurance industry as a whole was. That’s why they wanted to start with the country they were currently living in: Germany. 

That’s where they saw their opportunity to help. Both were heavily involved in the expat community in Berlin, so they decided to bring their experience of navigating Germany’s super bureaucratic and complex world of insurance by creating a company that tackles the hard part for you: hence, Europe’s number one digital insurance companion. 

Starting slow and bootstrapping to the top 

Feather didn’t see much investment in the early days, so the company had to bootstrap its way through new products and services. They started using agile methodologies to quickly create MVPs (minimum viable products) while adding new features. One of these early MVPs was the recommendation tool. 

The tool’s goal is to ask someone a few questions and then tell them if an insurance product is recommended or not, along with giving them a general preliminary quote and overview of what the insurance is meant to do. The tool is now operational across 10 different insurance policies with up to 4 tariffs per insurance type. This includes both public and private health insurance options. 

Why offer public insurance? 

The two current public-only plans Feather offers are supplemental dental insurance for public health insurance holders and normal public health insurance. 

By offering these products and providing customer support for them in English, there is a higher chance that the same customers will not only purchase the other products Feather has to offer (personal liability, household contents, legal insurance, etc.), but that they will also tell others about it. 

Why offer free customer service for insurance?

The insurance industry is notorious for being hard to reach and inaccessible, with companies working behind closed doors on products people depend on. For health insurance, this means that someone’s life could actually depend on a company’s decision to fund or not fund a healthcare treatment. Considering most insurance companies are very hard to speak to, and they have contracts that are difficult to understand, it makes a life-impacting product difficult to find. 

Someone might sign up for one insurance and depend on it paying for regular medications like PrEP or insulin but only come to realize later that pre-existing conditions or preventative medications aren’t covered. This is simply unacceptable. 

How does Feather’s customer support work? 

Feather insurance offers free customer service to anyone interested in their plans. There is no obligation to sign up, and the employees are rewarded based on the reviews on Google and Trustpilot and not on how many plans are sold monthly. There are no prizes for selling more plans, nor are there incentive structures in place for selling plans. They only use reviews to measure if people are satisfied with their service. 

That also means that Feather employees are told to tell the truth, so if someone would be able to get a better plan and be happier with an alternative company, they’ll tell you. If you’re better off with public health insurance rather than private, they’ll tell you that as well. The only thing that matters is that the person they’re speaking to feels like they have the information they need to make an informed decision that’s good for them. 

Happy customers mean more sales 

These incentive structures are based on the idea that if enough people get health insurance through Feather and are satisfied with their decision, more people will want to use Feather’s services. This is how the company is already starting to reshape the way we think about insurance. 

If just one start-up is able to compete against insurance giants because they offer honest advice, then there is the potential for many to ultimately switch to plans through Feather to have the assurance they need that their insurance provider is doing everything in their power to make sure they have the best plan possible for their lifestyle. 

Making insurance easy to digest 

While insurance contracts will never be easy to understand (especially in a country like Germany), Feather attempts to break down these massive documents through articles, FAQs, translated contracts, and coverage tables throughout the website. 

By producing as much information as possible about a product, it means that people are also more capable of informing themselves if they don’t feel comfortable speaking to a member of the customer support team.

More insurance products are coming 

After speaking with Feather about their future plans, they said they were planning on using their recent funding round to finance several new insurance product launches. While they wouldn’t tell us exactly which insurance products are being released, we do know that they managed to release private health insurance, bike insurance, and life insurance in 2021 and occupational disability insurance already in 2022. 

Compared to their competitors, who only have a few products available at most, Feather allows customers to use one account for almost all of their insurance needs. This includes asking the support team questions about coverage options, submitting claims in their online accounts, paying for their insurance products in one bill every month, and more.

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