As the UK goes into lockdown to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, the insurtech industry has responded to support gig economy workers

As the country goes into lockdown over the coronavirus, there has been further pressure on gig economy workers who offer vital delivery and transport services.

For most gig workers, working remotely and from home is the norm, but for some their line of work involves ‘one-off jobs’ such as cab rides, food or item deliveries or performances. It affects the likes of Uber drivers, Deliveroo and Just Eat riders, as well as Amazon staff. 

Some insurtechs that insure this line of work have stepped in to alleviate this pressure. 

Sten Saar, chief executive and co-founder at Zego told Insurance Times: “We recognise that a lot of gig-economy workers will be facing financial pressures in the coming weeks and we‘re currently considering what measures we can introduce to help alleviate these pressures for our customers.

“What’s also clear from the government’s announcement on restaurants and pubs being granted takeaway licences, is that the food delivery workforce is about to grow significantly and there’s going to be a lot more people who require commercial insurance on a temporary basis.”

He added that Zego is ready to do everything it can to help restaurant and pub owners secure the flexible insurance they need to operate.

”The more that we can help these establishments sort out fair, flexible insurance, the sooner they can start generating income again,” he said. 

Zego is offering two weeks free cover for its policyholders that they can claim back when they renew. The insurtech insure those that work for Deliveroo and Uber. 

Deliveroo has also introduced contact-free deliveries as part of its safety priorities reassuring customers that it is unlikely that the virus can spread via food.

Major support role

Digital Risks, insurtech and flexible business insurer partnered with freelance career platform – UnderPinned to offer a legal, tax and mental heallth advise to the sector. As well as a one-off low interest loan for the self-employed. 

Underpinned is now calling on policymakers to consider a freelancer support package which includes better sick pay provisions and a one-off low-interest loan for the self-employed.

Meanwhile Louise Birriteri, chief executive and founder of sharing economy insurer Pikl said the Covid-19 crisis provides a large opportunity for the gig economy to play a major support role in providing food delivery services and other goods services to those who need them and cannot leave their homes - providing a safe handover can be achieved which may providers have been implementing protocols on (such as leaving food by the door).

”Much of this work is isolated work, delivering outside which should coincide with social distancing measures and should mean many can continuing working unaffected.”

Many gig economy workers have professional Indemnity Insurance which covers financial loss suffered by a freelancer’s client due to negligence or accidental mishap. Insurtech Dinghy gave the example of a web developer missing a deadline that could result in the delay of a major product launch and therefore lost revenue for the firm and reputational damage to the client. 

Becoming more digital 

Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, chief executive and founder of on-demand insurer for the sharing economy, Tapoly said: ”How the coronavirus pandemic impacts gig workers will largely depend on their job, eg if you are an event organiser you are exposed to the cost of event cancellation. But if you are a freelance designer or virtual assistant where you are already mainly working from home, this pandemic will have very little impact on your work”

But she said the pandemic has forced other businesses to become more digital. Tapoly provides flexble professional indemnity, public liability and business protection insurance for SMEs, the self-employed freelancers, sole traders, and contractors. 

”We have seen a spike in customers searching for business disruption cover. Over the last few weeks there has been a massive increase on Google search for Business Interruption, with +623.81% increase compared to this time last year.

”However, many policies don’t cover pandemics such as coronavirus.”

Several initiatives from the government aim to support SMEs during the crisis, such as the Revenue & Customs providing statutory sick pay up to two weeks per person for COVID-19 related cases, as well as the British Business Bank offering a coronavirus business interruption loan scheme.

What is the gig economy?

Gig workers are independent contractors, online platform workers, contract firm workers, on-call workers and temporary workers. Gig workers enter into formal agreements with on-demand companies, this includes Uber, Deliveroo, Amazon, and Just Eat to provide services to the company’s clients.

But Covid-19 is also affects freelancers. 

Who insures them?

Insurtechs mainly offer flexible pay-as-you go insurance to gig workers as their line of work includes “one-off” jobs that do not suit the annual nature of traditional policies. 

What measures has the government put in place for small businesses so far?

The chancellor of the exchequer announced his plans to allocate an additional £330bn as a lifelife loan to support UK businesses. 

In his first ever budget speech earlier in March he revealed that we would be providing £3,000 in cash grants to the 700,000 of the UK’s smallest businesses.

But as coronavirus cases rose and circumstances worsened, he later increased those grants to £10,000.

Whether businesses can pay back this loan will however depend on how long the coronavirus outbreaks continues for and the financial impact on the business. 

Increasing demand

Meanwhile Amazon has suspended all non-urgent shipments to its UK and US warehouses until 5 April so it can make room for vital items such as baby products, health and household, beauty and personal care, industrial and scientific, and pet supplies.

Matt Jarvis, managing director of personal injury services at Slater and Gordon, added: “It’s clear coronavirus is going to impact some people and industries more than others. Some will be more able to weather temporary downturns or new demands to work differently.”


Dinghy said that gig economy workers are exposed to the virus itself while everyone else practises social distancing by working from home and avoiding public spaces, gig economy workers face going out to work or earning no pay, so their risk of contracting the illness is high,  particularly if demand picks up as more people order services online whilst stuck at home. 

Secondly, should they then fall ill, or be unable to work due to restrictions on movement they will be left to claim benefits on universal credit as the very last port of call.

There is also no Statutory Sick Pay for gig workers or employment contracts that protect them as gig workers are technically self-employed.  

Pikl, Tapoly Dinghy are members of trade body, Insurtech UK.