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Driven by rising demand from specialist gig workers, insurers are introducing niche products that include daily to weekly insurance covers in line with the nimble footedness of India’s rapidly-expanding gig economy.

Leading the pack are a clutch of technology-backed new age insurers such as Probus Insurance Broker Pvt. Ltd, Coverfox Insurance Broking Pvt. Ltd, and Plum Benefits Pvt. Ltd, which are offering mental health, accident, and credit insurance for the new set of workers. Companies have informed the insurers that gig workers need to be told that their insurance covers will also depend on productivity and on meeting their hourly targets. The demand is so high that insurance firms often have to toggle different covers as the gig workers switch from one platform/company to a rival’s often on the same day.

“Demand for insurance for gig workers is increasing from the corporate sectors and goes beyond basic accident and health insurance. Some include insurance for family/partners, mental health, and wellbeing," said Aditya Bagarka, head of innovation and strategy at Plum, which is an employee health insurance platform that provides health benefits to corporations

Gig workers include independent contractors, freelancers across sectors who can be employed by multiple firms/platforms for a few hours a week of the worker’s choice. A fairly recent concept in India, the gig economy got a boost during two years of the pandemic when many people decided to work for a certain amount of time.

“Today, companies are figuring out if gig workers want benefits and insurance or more pay for the working hours. There is also a discussion among delivery and mobility services providers about whether gig workers should get covered while he/she is using their platform or even later on," said Mahavir Chopra, founder, chief executive officer (CEO) of Beshak.org, an independent consumer awareness platform for individual insurance buyers.

According to a May 2021 report by industry body Assocham, India’s gig sector is expected to increase to $455 billion at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17% by 2024 and has the potential to expand at least 2x the pre-pandemic estimates. Another estimate said India is likely to have 350 million gig jobs by 2025.

Insurance platforms such as Plum have noticed that clients have also attached daily to weekly insurance cover against a gig worker’s productivity. “Clients often use increased insurance covers as an incentive to propel the gig worker to perform better. They have various metrics to chalk out the gig employee’s impact on the impact on revenue on the company and offer insurance accordingly," Bagarka said.

Unlike a permanent or contractual employee, the gig worker may not easily get a term life insurance cover. However, there is accident insurance where gig workers can get a lump sum payout of up to 100% of the sum assured.

“The focus should be on vehicle insurance, home insurance, and equipment and liability insurance. Insurers should find a way to personalize insurance products by combining emerging technologies, including AI and chatbots, to focus on the gig economy," said Rakesh Goyal, director at Probus Insurance.

Firms are offering credit insurance to this growing set of workforce. “Credit insurance helps square off any outstanding loan in case of the untimely death of the client," said John Mayne, executive director, Coverfox.

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