A lack of data and understanding recognised as key areas for development

Representatives of the insurance industry and the ‘sharing economy’ met for the first time at Number 10 Downing Street yesterday and developed an eight-point action plan to facilitate the industry’s growth.

Top of the list is conducting a needs analysis of the market to determine what cover sharing businesses need for and what insurance is already available.

This will be aggregated into an industry guide, produced in association with Biba, that helps signpost shared economy businesses to brokers and insurers that can offer solutions.

The meeting at Number 10 was chaired by Bluefin executive chairman Stuart Reid and attended by industry representatives from Towergate, AXA, Ecclesiastical, Canopius, the ABI and Biba, as well as key figureheads in the sharing economy and the government.

Reid told Insurance Times there was a “genuine desire” by all parties to find a solution and that the key problem identified at the meeting was a lack of data and understanding from both sides of the table.

“We need hard facts from the [sharing economy] to start writing business. They need to know what facts we need. It’s as simple as that,” Reid said.

“We have charged those that were there representing [shared] businesses to provide more data to help us find solutions for them. Insurance is, after all, a very data-hungry industry.

“While it’s called the sharing economy and while it’s looking at things slightly differently to the norm, ultimately the risks are insurable and can be done so, we hope, in a relatively simple and straightforward way.”

Biba has also committed to canvassing its members to see which brokers can offer solutions.

Executive director Graeme Trudgill said: “It’s a bit of an education process for our members and a bit of data gathering to find out which members specialise in what areas and then bringing this together in a guidance book that covers how it works, what insurance is required, what the risks are and where [shared businesses] can go to get those insurances.”

Trudgill added that the meeting was “a good advert for brokers” and their ability to find and create insurance solutions for specialist businesses.

The group plans to meet again in mid-September and report back on its action plan progress, which also includes: determining the value of the shared economy market, looking to other countries for best practice examples, analysing what insurance is already available and creating a list of what is still needed, facilitating the sharing of data and analytics, and looking at creating a single verification body for shared economy businesses.

Benita Matofska, founder and chief sharer of Compare and Share, an online directory of more than 7,400 sharing economy sites, said she was pleased with “the appetite and interest from the insurance industry to understand the sharing economy better”.

“What was clear is that there are some policies that exist that can work and do work, but from the sharing economy perspective there’s not clear information on where to go and who to talk to to access this information,” she said. 

Matofska is charged with aggregating data from the industry ahead of the next meeting, with the goal of providing the group with industry-wide statistics and values.