How a global insurance startup responds to a pandemic
It’s safe to say that everyone connected with the travel industry (as well as many others, of course) has had an exciting few weeks, to say the least.
Nearly every day, our community is presented with a new challenge that seems almost impossible to overcome. Nomads around the world have been put in a uniquely difficult position abroad.
We know this because we felt the responsibility of coming up with a simple way to explain complicated insurance policy details to thousands of people in distress. Everyone was asking what is covered, and the answer depended on location and on travel warnings that could change by the hour. The amount of distressed customers that our team at SafetyWing normally assists over the course of a month, is smaller than the amount we suddenly handled daily, while people were being evacuated to their home country en masse.
Others (many of the SafetyWing team included), remained abroad and are now under lockdown. Nearly everyone had questions, no matter what they decided to do. Fortunately, being a startup worked to our advantage in being able to find solutions.
Launching Remote Health for Individuals
On March 11th, WHO declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic.
On this date, most travel medical insurances stopped covering coronavirus.
At the time, we were happy to instead follow CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) which only had warnings out for a few countries. But this didn’t last long: On March 27th, the CDC announced a global level 3 travel restriction around the world, and finally, the coronavirus exclusion became a fact also for our SafetyWing Nomad Insurance.
So we started out looking for what we could do for our Nomad Insurance customers. But we quickly found out that creating an insurance on a monthly plan to cover pandemics in the middle of a pandemic, is like creating a tornado insurance in the middle of a storm: No insurance company thought this was a good idea.
And then we realized that our other product, a global health insurance called Remote Health, has no pandemic exclusion.
How is this possible?
Didn’t you just say you can’t cover tornadoes in the middle of a storm?
This health insurance is under a yearly contract (12 monthly payments), and because of this, the risk is spread out over a year. So it still makes sense to cover coronavirus, and whatever other medical conditions that might occur over a year.
That means that the coverage is, and will continue to be, unaffected by the pandemic. When we launched Remote Health about a month ago, it was not available for individuals (only companies and teams).
Almost immediately, our Nomad Insurance customers who were still abroad began asking for it to fill the gap now found in travel medical insurance.
Originally we had planned to launch in late May, but have worked around the clock to make it available 2 months early in light of the pandemic.
We also negotiated a 15% discount for SafetyWing members trapped abroad. This is now available for $131/month for 18–39 year olds (with the discount. The normal price is $153. Other age groups available.)
Long and short trips are covered for every single country in the world, and 175+ countries are supported as your home country. And yes — you have full coverage also when you are home.
Building Flatten the Curve
As nomads ourselves, we found ourselves in unique scenarios around the world once travel and social distancing restrictions were put in place, with big differences between what countries enforced and recommended.
It became clear that the entire nomad community was looking for answers. We all want to stop the spread of the virus. The problem was finding out what exactly to do.
In just a week from the point of idea conception to completion, SafetyWing gathered a team of researchers and journalists to collaborate on flattenthecurve.global. It’s an interactive map tool designed to guide people across the globe with up to date travel restrictions, social distancing guidelines and health recommendations. It’s humanity’s collective effort to flatten the peak of the COVID-19 curve.
We are continuing to not only update, but improve this project. You can now view and share unique URLs for each country and state. Soon, you will even be able to subscribe and be notified when the updates are posted. It continues to be one of the best information sources available to help flatten the curve. Thanks to the nomad community who continues to help us with this project!
Our first product, Nomad Insurance, has a policy that relies on both CDC travel warnings and U.S. Department of State travel advisory.
Because these recommendations often changed by the hour, we realized that sending out static information that would quickly become out of date is unacceptable. We decided to set up safetywing.com/coronavirus, a dynamic landing page that could be constantly updated as needed with information relating to how travel warnings affected customers in different locations.
We are continuing to update this page with relevant information.
Until recently it has been specific to Nomad Insurance, but we are expanding the page with information relevant for Remote Health users as well.
If you still have any questions after reading the page, please reach out to email@example.com. Our incredible customer service team has been heroic in this effort.
What are we doing next?
- Building a Remote Doctor product, to help you get doctor’s assistance while in quarantine. This service will be available in a few weeks.
- Researching which countries cover coronavirus with the public healthcare system without the need for insurance. We are gathering information on locally available insurance for coronavirus that can supplement Nomad Insurance.
- We are taking feedback from customers and improving the sign-up process of Remote Health. Often with daily iterations.
We will be regularly updating our community with these updates.
If you (or someone you know) wants to get these updates, just sign up at safetywing.com by clicking “sign me up”. A purchase isn’t necessary to sign up for an account to get the updates.
Above all, we assure you that we are pushing the limits to find solutions to these unprecedented obstacles we are collectively facing. At SafetyWing, we strongly believe that all problems are solvable. We have, and will continue to apply this attitude in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If there is a problem that we can help with solving in your community, let us know!