Feather raises €6m to scale its insurance platform for migrants to a pan-European scale

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As a foreigner, it can often be difficult to deal with the health insurance system. German startup Feather thinks it has a solution and has raised 6 million euros to help some of the more than 40 million migrants working and living in Europe.

It’s not that there aren’t any options for foreign nationals to get insurance; they have plenty. But it’s precisely because the offering is fragmented and mismatched with individual needs that Feather feels it can carve out a niche for itself despite fierce competition from incumbents.

Since migrants often have access to their host country’s public health system, a big part of the question is what conditions they fall into, especially during transition periods, which are becoming more common as remote work rises.

Feather CEO Rob Schumacher told TechCrunch that the startup wants to get this level of detailed information right. For example, it offers a recommendation tool to help individuals understand what kind of coverage they might need, from health insurance to additional options like life, pet, motor vehicle, and personal liability insurance.

Feathers Quick Assessment Example
Feather’s Rapid Assessment Tool.
Image Credit: Wing

“The funny thing is, every expat understands this right away,” Schumacher said. This has helped Feather receive angel checks from former founders who became aware of the issue through their own startups such as GoCardless, Monzo and N26, where Feather CTO Vincent Audor was an early employee.

Wise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus also invested in Feather through a VC fund he co-founded called Plural. Feather’s lead investor, Keen Venture Partners, also came inbound: Schumacher said it was partner Abdul Afridi, himself an expat, who approached the startup, not the other way around.

However, fundraising for insurtech startups in the post-hype 2021 era hasn’t exactly been easy, and Schumacher is cautious about making the process seem easier than it is.

With the failure of French neoinsurer Luko in the background and other very public insurance tech problems, getting past due diligence was no easy task. With negotiations dragging on, Feather’s founders considered simply going back to chasing profitability. “And I think that was the main thing that made us really interesting again,” Schumacher said.

International expansion

Feather came on board because its new backers brought expertise across a number of topics, including branding, but mainly because the capital will help fuel its internal expansion. The startup currently serves expats in Germany, France, and Spain, and is set to launch in three more countries by the end of 2024.

Schumacher said none of this would have been possible without the additional funding. “We would have just done more incremental work.” Perhaps it would have been a wasted opportunity: The startup says it achieved more in the six months after its launch in Spain than it did in its first 18 months in Germany.

Despite the international audience, there were no clear plans for expansion for Feather, whose founders thought they might first go for a wider audience in Germany. However, they soon realized that the expatriate niche was particularly interesting for a digital-first offering like theirs.

Compared to locals in the same age group, foreigners are more likely not to work with a broker. But they still need help; as a French citizen, Audour knows this firsthand, and so does Schumacher, who moved to Germany after spending most of his life abroad.

While they’re scratching their own itches, both know the market they’re tapping into is huge, and growing. Whether you call them migrants or immigrants, the fact is that Europe’s economies are set to hire more foreign workers to compensate for their aging populations.

Finding balance

For its end users, Feather promises a better experience consisting of transparent policies, unbiased recommendations, and simple digital claim processes, all in English. With its new funding, it is also making a “big bet” on employee benefits insurance that companies that hire a lot of immigrants want to provide.

While it is as bullish on technology as any other insurtech company, Feather doesn’t want to badmouth the legacy companies it partners with, and it has some senior insurance executives on its cap table.

That, and its measured approach to fundraising and spending, could be profitable, or at least help companies avoid the scrutiny that new insurtech partnerships face. “For the last six years we’ve been building healthy, sustainable businesses, and that allows you to unlock new things even with existing ones,” Schumacher said.

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