As the public attempts to navigate a post-COVID world — or at least one where the disease can be managed — the skies are clearing and travel has begun to bounce back to normal.
As the pandemic swept the globe in the past two years, it added a number of uncertainties including flight cancellations, numerous delays, and restrictions that made even planning a vacation seem difficult and cumbersome. Now that they’re getting used to the new normal, travelers are looking for more responsible travel policies and insurance that can get them through the toughest challenges — beyond dealing with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis in a foreign country.
Faye, a Tel Aviv-based startup focused on redefining insurance for travelers, has an all-digital, consumer-centric platform for Americans that manages more than just financial reimbursement and travel claims.
Founded in 2019 by current-CEO Elad Schaffer and current-CTO Daniel Green, Faye has emerged from stealth this year, with $8 million in seed funding raised last month by firms like F2 Capital and investors like former NBA player Omri Casspi, While Faye has the technology to boot, including a digital wallet and immediate 24/7 customer support, as well as AI capabilities — it’s innovative approach is also in how the company supports its customers with their best interest at heart, beyond the typical insurance platform.
Even the company’s name is designed to bring out he best in every journey. The world “faye” literally means fairy, adding to the “fairytale-like magic we hope to experience during our travels thanks to faster, smarter,” better insurance,” the company wrote in a blog post published in April.
“I think beyond the technology, there is a very fundamental change in how we view the role of travel insurance. And I think for many years, it has been viewed as a reimbursement service for damages that were caused. Damages were caused, you fill out forms. If — and that’s a big if — we determine that it’s legit, we will pay you money.” Schaffertells NoCamels, “We take a very different approach. We believe that the role of the travel insurance is to look after you when you’re on the road. They can look after you by giving you amazing insurance — digital proactive automation pay in seconds. But looking after you when you’re on the road entails so much more than that.”
He names a few travel scenarios that require more than just financial returns. “What happens if you miss your connection? What you need is not definitely insurance — it’s help getting on the next available flight. If you lose your passport, you don’t just need insurance to give you 50 bucks to cover a new one. What you really need to know is where do I go. What should I bring to get a new passport? What do you do if you need to take a PCR test? Where do you go? These are all wider cases than what pure insurance will cover. And we make them available in real time.”
Faye’s insurtech platform covers trips, health, luggage, and even pets, through a smartphone app that sends real-time alerts, provides unlimited access to customer experience specialists, allows users to file claims digitally, and processes those claims fast. Approved claims are sent via electronic transfer to the Faye Wallet. Through the Faye Wallet, travelers can receive quick reimbursements for travel inconveniences (like lost luggage) and use those reimbursements to buy what they need. It can be connected to Apple Pay or Google Pay and once the claim is approved, the traveler can be reimbursed the wallet within seconds.
“You break your leg, you need assistance right now. Your car was damaged and assistance right now your flight was delayed, you don’t know what to do, you just missed your connection. It’s a very different type of insurance that has a real time element to it. And the ability to handle claims, fix them and pay them in real time makes a big difference,” says Schaffer.
Another “layer” that is an important part of Faye’s platform is its travel intelligence. “Travel intelligence is how we make sure that we can track your trip and alert you to what you need to know,” Schaffer explains, “So upon registering with us we ask you to tell us your generic details that include flight information, hotel information , whatever you’re happy to share — we then track those trips. So we can track your flight and alert you to things like flight delays, flight cancellations, where you might pick up your bags, how long it’s going to take you to get into the city,” The company even highlights changing COVID-19 restrictions by airline and country.
The point is “we’re not just sending you these alerts. The idea is that we then connect it to your coverage with us. So if I’m alerting you to a flight delay, you might be entitled to $200 worth of an inconvenience fee. We connect those things that just happened to you to your actual needs at the time.”
For example, if those COVID restrictions have changed your destination, Faye can reach out and offer help to rebook the trip
“I think the other word to describe it is being proactive. We don’t wait for things to go wrong. We’re tracking what’s happening to help you avoid troubles altogether. And if troubles happen, we’re being proactive in trying to resolve them,” Schaffer says, “It means that we’re looking for solutions, not certainly money. Because when your flight is delayed and all of a sudden you know you’re only going back to San Francisco in two days, what you really need now is to know where you are going to sleep tonight. Not just, ‘Hey, how can I get x money back?’
In a time where travel insurance in America is distributed through airlines and travel distributors, like online travel agencies or platforms like Expedia and Orbitz, which takes hefty commissions and creates a barrier between the insured and the insurance company, Faye is swooping in to up the ante on customer loyalty.
“It’s about the philosophy behind what travel insurance should be, and not what it is,” says Schaffer.