Former British Prime Minister Theresa May once said “if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere”. And while that sentiment would be considered risible by just about anybody who works in today’s outward-looking technology industry, if you are a digital worker of the world, you may well be a worker of no insurance.
That’s the problem that SafetyWing, a startup out of Norway and a recent graduate of Y Combinator, is aiming to solve.
“People used to be limited to working locally. Now the internet and recent technologies have made it possible to hire and work for companies globally, allowing people to live wherever in the world they choose to, free from the physical restraints of an office location,” says SafetyWing co-founder and CEO Sondre Rasch.
“Unfortunately, social safety nets like health insurance are national and only available in one’s home country. Millions are left to figure this out on their own with the majority going uninsured. To solve this problem, we are building the first global social safety net: a welfare state on the internet”.
Launched last year, SafetyWing first product is focussed on medical travel insurance, with the promise to provide medical cover for anybody who works outside of their home country. The cover is flexible, too, sold as a 28 day rolling subscription that can be paused at any time. Cover starts at $37 every 4 weeks.
“Our typical customer is a digital nomad,” explains Rasch, “an entrepreneur, freelancer or remote worker in a startup, early 30s, who has moved from the U.S. and spends 3 months at a time in their favorite low cost countries with good infrastructure. Thailand, Indonesia, Colombia, Eastern Europe and Mexico are typical examples”.
On direct competitors, Rasch says there isn’t really anyone else currently building a “social safety net” for digital nomads, although WorldNomads also offers similar travel insurance. “The main difference is that we are made for digital nomads and remote workers specifically,” he claims. “Our product is quite simple in that we offer a subscription-like service that you can buy while you live abroad, and keep it forever”.
Meanwhile, to support its mission of providing a safety net for digital nomads and to develop further products, the 2017-founded company, whose other co-founders are Sarah Sandnes (CTO) and Hans Kjellby (COO), has raised $3.5 million in seed funding. Leading the round is Nordic and Baltic-focussed VC byFounders, with participation from Credit Ease Fintech Fund and DG Incubation. SafetyWing’s previous backers include YC and The Nordic Web Ventures.