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Embedded insurance: a solution to growing calls for gig worker rights

The delivery and gig economy is constantly evolving – be it shifts in competition, demand or laws. As the sector faces new challenges, one thing’s clear: platform workers deserve proper benefits.
Delivery & gig economy
Words by
Alex Vickery
Time to read
4 minutes
Last updated
January 6, 2022
In a nutshell
  • On-demand platforms are under increased pressure to respond to workers’ rights.
  • Whether couriers are independents or employees, they deserve fair benefits.
  • Insurance can offer crucial security and protection for delivery riders.

The pandemic has been a game changer for the platform economy, as it’s become abundantly clear just how essential its on-demand workforce is. In response to an increased consumer hunger for this type of convenient delivery service, dark stores have risen up – but so have platform workers.

Platform workers push for fairer working conditions

In recent years there’s been increased scrutiny when it comes to regulating on-demand platforms, particularly in terms of workers' rights. This momentum has led to a wave of proposals and legislation across Europe.

The Spanish government enacted a ‘riders’ law’ over the summer recognising all delivery riders as employees rather than self-employed freelancers. A few months later, its largest delivery platform – Glovo – put forth its own ‘Couriers Pledge’ outlining a set of initiatives to ensure a fairer future of work for its riders.

And most recently, the EU Commission proposed its own legislation designed to improve conditions for platform workers across the bloc.  

Unlike Spain’s ‘riders’ law’, the new EU directive doesn’t seek to change the status of self-employed riders so much as it aims to clarify the difference between being a freelancer and an employee – and the actions that platforms should take to support them.

Female delivery rider walks her bike down a city street
The EU recognises that whether couriers are employees or freelancers, they deserve quality benefits. 

At an EU level – and without further national intervention – this leaves it in the platform’s hands to choose how they’d like to hire their riders and act accordingly.

In regards to insurance, the proposed law recognises the importance of protecting platform workers, regardless of their status.

Ensuring correct determination of the employment status should not prevent the improvement of working conditions,’ the directive states. ‘Where a digital labour platform decides … to pay for social protection, accident insurance or other forms of insurance … to self-employed persons working through that platform, those benefits as such should not be regarded as determining elements indicating the existence of an employment relationship.’ 

This means that businesses can offer free protection to their riders without worrying about what this means for their classification.

It’s been a busy few months on the European delivery app scene, and the increased attention shows no signs of tapering off. The important thing is, that no matter how workers are classified, they deserve quality benefits

Self-employed delivery riders are most vulnerable

Self-employed riders, freelancers, independent contractors – whatever you’d like to call them – are the most vulnerable on the job.

A recent study by Copenhagen Economics found that 72% of self-employed couriers use delivery work to complement other work or studies, and that the majority favor the flexibility that being an independent contractor provides.

But of course one of the biggest challenges that freelancers face is that they don’t qualify for social security systems. This can be particularly problematic for delivery riders who face a huge amount of risk on the job – they’re more likely to be in an accident, be exposed to weather elements and face traffic in dense urban areas.

Providing insurance for self-employed gig workers is crucial. In addition to coverage that most workers enjoy such as sick leave and parental benefits, couriers need protection if they get into an accident and harm themselves or someone else.

Delivery rider holds their bike and backpack on city street
Delivery workers are particularly vulnerable to accidents on the job.

Employed delivery riders have gaps in coverage

Some delivery platforms choose to employ their riders, which can provide a baseline coverage when it comes to insurance – but it’s not nearly enough.

As employees, these couriers do qualify for national benefits in the country they work in, but those benefits often don’t cover the added risk they face.

For one thing, social security benefits can vary widely per country – with clear gaps depending on where riders live and work. This can range from losing a significant amount of income when they’re out sick to riders having to pay for third-party injuries out of their own pocket.

In order to ensure that companies are doing their best to create a safe and secure work environment, those with employed couriers need to look at providing additional protection that adequately covers their riders.

Delivery rider sitting on stairs checks his phone next to his bike
Providing insurance can help businesses attract and retain riders.

Insurance is key to platform worker well-being and motivation

There are many aspects to strengthening fair working conditions for platform workers, but the role of insurance in enhancing rider well-being is undeniable. And increasing riders’ sense of security directly impacts their motivation and performance.

One of Fairwork’s five guiding principles for gig platforms is providing safety conditions such as mitigating risk on the job and protecting workers’ loss of income due to sickness, etc.

At Qover, we provide insurance solutions for all platform workers regardless of their status, designed to fit the needs of your riders.

We support partners like Deliveroo and Glovo – as part of its ‘Couriers Pledge’ – to provide their workers with insurance that covers personal accidents, third-party liability, sick leave and even benefits for new parents.

Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you care for your couriers.