An Interview with Friendsurance
During her last trip to Berlin, TrustCloud Community Manager Francesca talked to Tim Kunde, the founder and Co-CEO of a very interesting German startup called Friendsurance.
After working as a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group and Rocket Internet GmbH, Kunde decided to become an entrepreneur. With Friendsurance he is attempting to disrupt the insurance industry. The service is currently only available in Germany.
Friendsurance has a very unique and revolutionary approach to insurance. By using the power of social networks, your service is able to offer liability, legal and household insurance at a very low rate. Tim, how would you describe your business model in a few sentences?
Friendsurance brokers insurance coverage from various companies in the insurance market. What is unique about the insurance plans we offer on Friendsurance is that small insurance claims are covered by the social networks of our customers, while big claims are still covered by the insurance companies. This system reduces a number of costs, as for instance fraud, and has the result that we can return cash to our customers each year, without reducing their coverage. The process of covering claims through your social network is automated, so that no additional effort is required by our customers.
How was the idea for Friendsurance born?
Our founding team had been looking at large online trends for a while, social networks obviously being one of them. What struck us was that this trend had not entered the insurance market at all, although, in its origins, insurance used to be a very social product: hundreds of years ago, big families and villages joined forces to help each other out when there were fires or floods. In a way we are trying to recreate this type of system with modern technology.
This idea is very innovative and is probably not so easy for some people to initially understand. What reactions to your service have you received so far?
In the beginning, people didn’t understand the idea–and when they did, they were often skeptical or even scared. Now, after numerous usability tests and steps of product innovation, most people who get in touch with us like our model and also use it, because they realize that Friendsurance offers a risk free way to save money with little effort.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
As always when new ideas are born, not everybody is easily convinced. So, apart from the “normal” challenges of finding investors and a good team, we had to convince insurance partners as well as customers of our model. This takes a lot of time and effort, and only works if you listen to user feedback and constantly improve your product to meet your customers’ needs. I think, this is something Friendsurance has become very good at.
How do you see the role of trust between users of your platform? Do you think that a system that makes it easier for people to trust strangers on the Web would promote the acceptance of your service?
A key component of our business model is the fact that people behave differently towards people they know than towards strangers. People feel a moral obligation to behave fairly towards their strong and often even weak ties. This is why the risk of insurance fraud is lower if people know that their network of friends will be affected by it. Introducing measures that could also lead to this effect when interacting with strangers could be interesting, assuming that the additional costs of implementing such a system are not too high.
For Friendsurance users to be able to get money back from their initial insurance payment, at the end of the year, they need to connect with other Friendsurance customers. Since I have a Friendsurance insurance myself, I know that building such a network is not always that easy. How does Friendsurance support its users in building up their insurance network?
We offer technical features to help our customers build up their network, such as Facebook integration and an address book upload functionality. Just as importantly, we see it as a priority to support our customers with any questions they might have, for instance through our toll-free phone hotline. We are aware that with a concept as new as ours, offering this type of help is highly important.
What do you think of this idea? Would you consider getting such an insurance? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments!
If you live in Germany and need a new insurance, you should definitely take a look at it on www.friendsurance.com.