What’s your background in the fintech/insurtech sector and what attracted you to the travel insurance business?
I was always drawn to the intersection of technology and real-world problems. While at university, I co-founded my first startup, which relied upon real-time data feeds and a distributed network of world experts to help governments and Fortune 500 companies plan for the future. We bootstrapped the business, ultimately building it into a profitable enterprise. Thirteen years later, it remains one of the most innovative companies in its space.
I decided that my next business needed to align with my passion – and that of my cofounder, Daniel Green – travel. It’s been an integral part of our upbringings (to the point at which I’d consider us travel nerds) and we’ve always felt travel insurance is inherent to every trip. We’re drawn to understanding the data, systems, rules and anomalies that drive this complicated, exciting ecosystem.
With Faye, we saw the opportunity to combine our expertise in data and love for travel. Insurance is one important – and often misunderstood – way of looking after individuals and powering confident travel, but our vision for Faye is much more expansive. Faye is where travel, insurance and fintech meet to cater to the real needs of today’s travellers
What is Faye Travel Insurance doing differently to disrupt the market and how are you powering positive adventures worldwide?
Faye’s approach is person-first, proactive and holistic, with us handling every aspect of the customer journey in-house. Person-first means we built our technology and coverage for the consumer, not distributors. That means jargon-free policies and easy communication with our team; a super speedy, non-invasive purchase process; automatic claim submissions; and quick reimbursements on common travel inconveniences to our digital, secure debit card Faye Wallet.
Proactive means being solution-oriented, with our technology actively monitoring trips and alerting travellers to important information – such as flight delays, Covid-19 destination info and more. This helps us be the ultimate cheerleader and protector when a customer is on the road.
Holistic means Faye has combined digital, easy-to-understand and comprehensive travel insurance coverage with intelligence and 24/7 support. Every policy comes with around-theclock assistance, catering to a much wider array of customer needs, evolving travel insurance from what many see as a claims reimbursement service to one that also encompasses realtime assistance. Our team is available via phone, app, email and WhatsApp – and not just in emergencies. Offerings include helpful advice on where to eat out, shows to see and the nearest ATM. We own every aspect of the customer journey, in-house – including claims. This is because we want customers to use Faye time and again, trusting us with their trip, from takeoff to checkout and beyond.
For too long, travel insurance has been synonymous with an archaic cycle of: something bad happens, you fill out lengthy forms and chase receipts, and hope to get a cheque in the mail like we’re in the 1980s. For us, it’s about looking after travellers from start to finish, in a more helpful, expansive and delightful way than ever before.
Starting the company in September 2019 meant you very quickly had to face the Covid global lockdown. How did you address this challenge?
We actually built Faye during Covid-19, out of the understanding that customer requirements had changed and were much broader than what traditional travel insurance provides. Not only should we cater to those who have previously purchased – to show them that their experience can be better, and also include 24/7 proactive assistance – we also need to educate those who are not accustomed to buying travel insurance, to showcase the benefits of trip protection
A new focus on customers is forcing insurers to improve what they do. How is technology enabling this?
Where do I even start? The Faye app goes everywhere, meaning access to our customer experience team from anywhere in the world via chat. People can file a claim in minutes, thanks to our automated prompts. A customer recently stated that it took him longer to write a TrustPilot review for us than to file a claim – we make it that easy.
Empowering people to file claims quickly in-trip means some can even be reimbursed while they’re still travelling, specifically for common inconveniences like flight cancellations and lost luggage. This is a huge factor for customer satisfaction, as we’d all prefer not to pay for an expensive airport dinner if we’re stranded on a layover.
That’s why we built Faye Wallet, our secure digital card, available to all those who purchase a Faye Travel Insurance policy – enabling us to send travellers reimbursements in real-time. It works via Apple Pay and Google Pay.
Do you think the industry has taken sufficient advantage of the ‘revenge travel’ trend the market is seeing?
Luckily, Covid-19 pushed travel protection to the forefront, with many consumers still struggling to get rightfully reimbursed for cancelled trips that happened two-plus years ago. Top of mind today is how they can best protect their trip investment and their health when on the road. And rightfully so.
That said, many legacy providers failed to evolve. Their policies are still hard to read, response times take ages and they’re unable to reimburse in real-time. That’s why new insurtechs, like Faye, are gaining notoriety for building digital-first products from scratch, directly addressing consumer pain points in a post-pandemic world.
But there’s still a long way to go in terms of consumer education, trust, and building longlasting relationships with American consumers who expect the worst from insurance, and may not want to try new providers.
Attracting and retaining talent is, for any business, one of the biggest challenges employers now face. How is Faye Travel Insurance responding?
Our approach has been to hire pros in travel, insurance and disruptive product building, empowering them to build out teams that will work towards our goal of creating the leading travel insurance provider in the States and, ultimately, worldwide. We’ve been lucky enough to have candidates seek us out, based on our mission to wake up a sleepy space – not just employees, but partners too.
What do you enjoy most and what have you found to be the most challenging aspect of entering the industry?
It’s actually quite a small ecosystem in which everyone knows each other. In that sense, there’s a lot of respect, camaraderie and collaboration, which is incredible as an entrepreneur.
That said, what I’ve enjoyed most is seeing our goal to do travel insurance differently resulting in real impact. For example, we helped a couple stranded on their way to eloping and getting married in Central Park. And just six months after launching, we reached 4.7 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot, with customers touting our tech, customer experience team, speedy claims processing and more. That drives us to keep going and showcases that we’re doing something right.
In terms of a challenge, perhaps my answer is obvious: regulation. This limits the speed in which we can launch products. And as a disruptor, we want to move fast.
What piece of advice would you give to a startup seeking to enter the travel insurance market? Where do you think there are still opportunities to develop and exploit?
Find the right partners who envision the same future and share your same goals. This can be your underwriter, distribution partners, etc. For us at Faye, that means prioritising customers over sales and providing a top-notch experience. Therefore, all of our partners – travel advisors and agencies included – must value real-time technology and meaningful, proactive in-trip assistance.
Generally speaking, the space hasn’t seen enough innovation and, because of red tape, startups here are pretty rare. The more players the better – together we’ll take the market to its full potential.