“Our fastest customer only needed 34 seconds”: Interview with Dr. Christoph Samwer, CEO & Co-Founder of InsurTech start-up FRIDAY
The insurance world is undergoing a revolution, and heading the charge in the German market is new digital insurer FRIDAY. The Berlin start-up has won a loyal customer following for its innovative products and streamlined digital experience. We talk with CEO and Co-Founder Dr. Christoph Samwer about customer-centricity, developments in Insuretech and why – when it comes to customer acquisition - removing hurdles is often more important than innovative products.
FRIDAY has entered the traditional insurance market with several new exciting products. Perhaps the most notable is ‘Pay per Kilometre’ where drivers simply pay an insurance based on how far they drive in a year. “FRIDAY Original” allows customers to cancel their contracts at the end of the month. What did the process of developing these products look like?
Customers in the insurance industry have been faced with a real lack of innovation for years now. Most products have not changed for decades. We relied on user research right from the start to meet customer needs. At the beginning of every process we always look at things from the customer's perspective and what the added value is. At the time of its market launch, each of the products was a novelty on the German insurance market.
Your FRIDAY+ ECO model sees FRIDAY contributing to climate protection projects, which means that in choosing this product the customer effectively offsets his CO2 driving emissions. Should social responsibility be a key part of any new company's offering?
We developed FRIDAY+ECO because there was a clear customer interest in this kind of product. The idea is already familiar to customers from the electricity market and extremely popular there: one in five customers opts for a green electricity tariff. This is exactly the option we are now offering in car insurance. Company attitude and values are becoming more important for customers.
How challenging has it been changing how very traditional customers like drivers think about car insurance?
You have to win customer trust. We succeed here because we are essentially an insurance company but we have not lost our innovative and technology-driven core. From the outset FRIDAY was designed to be a digital insurance company. This standard of quality can be seen, for example, in our team composition - insurance experts work side by side with digital natives and founders. A team like this is a prerequisite for innovative products that reflect the needs of its customers. With products like this you succeed in winning your customer trust. For FRIDAY, awards from Stiftung Warentest and the Autozeitung, but especially positive customer feedback, proved to us that we are on the right track.
What does the future hold for digitalisation in the insurance industry?
It is an unstoppable journey. Of course, digital innovations have conquered other business areas much faster. Sometimes the question arises whether insurance customers want to see more digitalization, and here these people are referring to customer surveys where there is some scepticism around Insurtechs. However, to refer to such surveys is extremely short-sighted – it is similar to the reference to the small share of electric vehicles in the total market. The danger of looking only at the status quo is currently being painfully experienced by the automotive industry.
FRIDAY is not a start-up in the traditional sense as main owner Baloise Group invested in FRIDAY from the beginning. What advantages are there for an Insurtech to work with a traditional insurance company?
It's exactly what large corporations lack: speed. But thanks to the support of the Baloise Group, we have been much faster. Without the know-how and active support of our colleagues from Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany, we would not have been able to bring digital car insurance to the market in just six months. The other advantage is the experience that a large corporation institutionally brings to the table. This experience has had a positive effect on the quality of FRIDAY products – Auto Bild awarded FRIDAY the title of best car insurance out of over 300 tariffs.
What lessons can start-ups wanting to launch innovative products in very traditional industries take from FRIDAY’s example?
The optimised application process for smartphones and tablets has contributed significantly to FRIDAY’s development. We have made it extremely easy for our customers to sign a contract with FRIDAY. I would say removing hurdles during the onboarding process – even against internal naysayers - is just as important as the product innovations themselves. Perhaps even more important: We have kept our promise to customers that they will get to the price in less than 90 seconds: One of our fastest customers only needed 34 seconds. In analogue life, those travelling with only 55 horsepower are on a somewhat slower path.
Finally, we are delighted about FRIDAY’s new partnership with SevenVentures. How will the collaboration with SevenVentures contribute to FRIDAY’s growing success?
FRIDAY has earned the reputation of being an innovative and modern company. We enjoy a high degree of credibility and we are popular with our customers. Our cooperation with SevenVentures has certainly provided a foundation for this success, alongside access to expertise, consulting and TV presence.