Clearly, work is changing with the pandemic, remote staff and new and different jobs that never existed before. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of 2017, 55 million people in the United States were “gig workers,” accounting for approximately 34 percent of the workforce. This is projected to increase to 43% this year.
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, 27% of U.S. workers are engaged in work of an independent nature on a primary or supplementary basis, including some online sellers and property renters.
What does this mean for the insurance industry when it comes to services, risk mitigation, independent contractors and more, especially with respect to the growing pool of self-employed and gig workers?
Insurers face two large problems in providing coverage options in this space. First, they are constrained to providing products that respond to the needs of today with policy forms that were not designed with many of the newer business models in mind. Second, in many cases, there is little to no data that the insurance company can rely on to determine the rates needed to cover losses.
Many misconceptions exist about the type of protection an independent contractor has when his or her services are rendered through an app.
For example, people often assume that their own personal automobile insurance policy would cover them when involved in an accident while were delivering food or transporting riders through an app-assigned task. Unfortunately, personal auto policies generally exclude when the policyholder is driving for hire. This insurance gap is filled by insurance companies providing a “hired, non-owned” auto liability policy to the platform/app.
For someone fulfilling non-driving services through a platform, there needs to be a general liability program in place to protect both the platform and the independent contractor (IC) against injuries to a third party. A traditional commercial general liability (CGL) policy issued to the platform will often fall short of providing this coverage. One common misconception is that naming the IC either directly or on a blanket basis would protect the IC against third-party claims.
While the typical CGL policy can cover an additional insured who is sued, it will generally only cover damages caused by the work of the insured, namely the app/platform. In this case, the insured’s work is not the actual work the IC performs, but rather the facilitation of the specific work of an IC through an app or platform.
A traditional CGL policy issued to the platform would cover losses to a third party as a result of what the platform does (booking the IC), but may not cover the actual work the IC does.
Additionally, there is an assumption that the independent contractor will be protected if he or she were to get injured. As these drivers are independent contractors, they would not be covered under workers compensation. Therefore, an occupational accident insurance policy should be in place.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed the world of work in many ways that we can identify and in some ways we cannot yet predict. Commercial property and casualty insurers need to track these developments and respond in an agile and cost-conscious way that takes insurer-customer relationships into account.
Some of the job roles brought into focus by the pandemic include:
- Telemedicine Workers (Huge growth due to COVID-19)
- Body Temperature Checkers (Huge growth due to COVID-19)
- IT Field Technicians
- Cable Installers
- Vehicle Disinfectors (Huge growth because of COVID)
- Beauticians & Cosmetologists (includes Barbers)
- Domestic Elder-Care Workers
- Consultants, free-lance writers and content developers
David Kaplan is vice president of Captives & Gig Economy at Crum and Forster Insurance. He is based in Glastonbury, Conn.