How the Gig Economy is transforming the insurance sector

Written by Janthana Kaenprakhamroy – Founder of Tapoly

The rise of the gig economy is probably the most disruptive and transformational thing to happen in the world of work since the 1980s.

There has been an explosion of workers offering their services or deriving a rental income through platforms like Uber, Deliveroo, Fiverr and Airbnb. These platforms have freed some from the 9-5, and for others unlocked new ways of working and earning alongside their day-jobs. Since 2010, the number of people working through non-employer businesses has grown by 25% in the UK.

Government figures show that growth in part-time self-employment accounts for nearly all the overall growth in UK employment since the 2008 crash.

Traditional businesses, too, have embraced the gig economy. During the same period from 2010, there has been a significant decline in the number of people directly employed in sectors like transportation and food service, as businesses in those sectors look to gig workers to provide more flexibility than traditional contract staff.

Data compiled by the Office of National Statistics shows that the number of gig workers in the transportation and storage sectors has risen by more than 8000% since 2010. In the accommodation and food sectors the figure is more than 1000%.

We’re in a new era of work, and these new working patterns demand new ways of thinking about insurance. Gig workers aren’t insured by their employers, and they don’t get life or health insurance as part of a benefits package. That’s why companies like Tapoly have begun to offer a different kind of insurance cover to address the needs of workers in the gig economy.

What do gig workers need from an insurer? First and foremost: speed. The gig economy moves fast. It thrives on quick decisions and frictionless transactions. When a freelance designer accepts a month-long contract in Berlin, she needs to get her London apartment on Airbnb instantly and manage bookings on her phone while she travels.

She needs to insure her apartment against damage—and herself against the risks of going into business as a temporary hotel-operator—within the same kind of timeframe, and she needs a one-month policy, not an annual one. Tapoly offers on-demand insurance, so gig workers can get the specific cover they need, for the exact timeframe they specify, within two minutes.

Gig workers also need flexibility. Our freelance designer probably can’t afford a comprehensive insurance package, and she doesn’t need one. However, she does have a complex set of insurance requirements. She needs insurance for her Airbnb for the month, but she might also need indemnity insurance to cover her Berlin project to completion.

If she’s visiting her client’s office once a week, she may need public liability insurance for those days. At Tapoly, we provide a comprehensive range of insurance products, with the option to mix-and-match different kinds of insurance to cover different time periods.

Last but by no means least, gig workers need different insurance products. When you work for a traditional employer, indemnity insurance probably isn’t something you think about. If you make a mistake that costs someone money, you might be in danger of losing your job, but you’re unlikely to be sued.

There are other ways, too, in which gig workers don’t enjoy the safety net that traditionally employed workers do. If our designer’s office is flooded and she can’t work for a week, she can’t earn for a week, and she might lose clients who don’t have time to wait for her to get back on her feet. She needs Business Interruption Insurance. Similarly, unless she has Personal Injury Insurance, her business will be in trouble if she’s injured and can’t work. The gig economy has increased the importance of all these products, which is why at Tapoly we offer these and more.