The rise of the gig economy is one of the most dramatic shifts in the labour market in recent years. People participate in it not just to earn a living, but to better organise their lives. Three out of four American gig workers say being an independent worker provides them with the flexibility they need to manage both their work and home life – a finding that is also supported by the UK's largest ever rider survey, conducted by our partner Deliveroo.
Self-employed workers worldwide are substantially more satisfied than traditional employees. The most important drivers of this are the increased autonomy that independent workers enjoy and the fact that they tend to find their work more interesting. They see work as a means to fulfil a deeper need, and will pick and choose the platform or client that best meets their needs, for example, by comparing insurance coverage.
Of course, there are (growing) doubts and stressors in this line of work. Gig workers feel a host of personal, social and economic anxieties without the support of a traditional employer. But studies show that they choose this independence, and that they likely won't give up the benefits that come along with it. Another survey by Deliveroo found that three-quarters of riders were unwilling to trade greater security if it meant less flexibility.
In today’s tight labor market, any platform that is serious about scaling its talent management needs to build compelling benefits. The impact goes much further than reputation and talent management.
Uber has faced countless headline-generating battles in its quest to make ridesharing widely available. Insurance is an obvious part of the transportation industry; it’s required to drive a vehicle in almost every market in the world. In its IPO filing, Uber noted, 'Our business depends heavily on insurance coverage for drivers and on other types of insurance for additional risks related to our business.'
Insurance is the largest variable cost for Lyft. Tackling and dealing with insurance costs has a massive impact on the company’s business model. It’s safe to say that sooner or later every platform will be confronted with the issue of insurance.
Uber spent countless hours meeting with insurers to explain the risk of ridesharing to underwriters. Luckily, the insurance world has seen the light and has started to understand the opportunity presented by gig economy platforms. Unfortunately, their products and company structures are still very hard to match with a global platform.
Hence the rise of specialised InsurTechs, like Qover. So here are some things to watch out for and questions you should ask your potential insurer.
Gig economy players tend to underestimate the complexity of launching a global or even Pan-European insurance solution. There might be one global account manager, but the day-to-day operations will be managed locally in each individual country.
So how will the insurer handle these geographical challenges? How are they represented in each market? Unnecessary layers of complexity can penalise platforms in the form of increased operations costs.
The only way to enable a standard process, uniform coverage and quality of service is to work with a partner that has centralised operational services.
Insurers rely on their statistics to measure the risk they cover. Try to gain insight into how their premiums are calculated, as it gives you room for negotiation. Are they able to connect to your logs? Maybe you've implemented measures to improve safety?
Insurance is all about statistics and prevention. The more data you connect, the more you'll be able to optimise insurance costs in the midterm. Build your case, and make sure the insurer has all the information and fully understands the risk you would like to cover.
Your users are most likely digital natives or feel very comfortable online. If you communicate through digital channels, is the insurer able to handle chat, email or even WhatsApp communication?
Would you prefer a digitised claims process?
It’s probably the biggest moment of truth in insurance, so take your time to dive into the specifics. Are they able to accommodate this and interface with your platform?
Is the insurer tracking customer satisfaction? Are they comfortable sharing those results and doing regular reporting? After all, if you offer insurance and the experience is lousy, it will rub off on you. For reference, Qover’s CSAT post-claim is over 95%.
This is where a standardised and centralised operations structure shows its strength. The ability to help users in their own language is critical.
Gig workers are especially vulnerable and can be exposed to dangerous situations. Someone who delivers parcels on a bike might be involved in an accident, for example. For this type of work, it's crucial to cover medical expenses, dental benefits or worst case, even a fixed indemnity.
Also bear in mind that a platform worker's family might be severely impacted by this. In case of hospitalisation, they might be faced with extra costs for childcare or transportation. Coverage with special family benefits can help them tackle these expenses.
If, after an accident, a gig worker is unable to work for a couple of weeks or even months, he or she will soon find themselves in a difficult financial situation. Temporary incapacity benefits protect their income if they can’t work anymore. This is usually in the form of a daily allowance for a specific period of time.
Insurers are not keen on covering the extra risk, but ask them to cover temporary incapacity in case of sickness as well. After all, if a gig worker is sick and can’t go to work, they'll face the same financial issues as after an accident.
Highly skilled freelancers face other issues. They're not covered by the public or product liability of the ordering customer. They would need to purchase insurance themselves to cover any damages they could cause to a third-party while on the job.
Many freelancers who only work a couple of hours per month will never get such coverage because it's too expensive – but they're exposed to a real risk.
If a platform can provide general insurance, it would remove a major hurdle for aspiring gig workers and build a competitive edge over other platforms.
Insurance is a very complex issue, and a typical management team prefers to focus on building the business. They don’t have the insurance expertise in-house to steer discussions directly with insurers.
Unfortunately, insurance is an integral part of the gig economy. And as we've laid out, there's no way around it – but we hope this article was helpful.
If you have any other questions about insurance for the gig economy, feel free to reach out!
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