Occupational Accident Insurance: Expanding the Social Safety Net

Within the next decade, over half of the workforce will be made up of independent contractors. Many of these gig workers are working in warehouses and construction sites or driving for courier services. There’s no shortage of platforms and marketplaces facilitating this segment of the gig economy, but because the workers themselves are not technically their employees, they don’t receive benefits like workers compensation. As the gig economy continues to grow, it’s imperative that gig marketplaces provide adequate replacements for the social protections built into employment.

One solution that has emerged as an alternative to Workers Comp is Occupational Accident Insurance (OAI). While workers comp doesn’t fit nicely into gig workers’ contracts, OAI is an equitable replacement with the flexibility and affordability to adapt to the contingent workforce. OAI contrasts the spotty, elective insurance policies common to marketplaces like Uber, which are more tailored towards avoiding lawsuits than protecting the workers from medical costs. Though gig workers may come in large supply, at little cost to marketplaces, they are people who want, need, and deserve protection. Companies at the vanguard of the gig economy have begun to acknowledge this with the adoption of OAI, providing a level of safety that many assumed 1099 workers would never attain.

What is OAI?

Occupational Accident Insurance has existed for years in the trucking industry, but flexible programs that fulfil the needs of contingent workers didn’t emerge until quite recently. Bunker spent years working with leading insurance carriers to design a usage based (down to the hour), on-demand option that protects both the company and the worker without racking up excess fees. In 2018, the product became available to the public and has had extraordinary success with proactive marketplaces looking to provide a platform that’s safe for everyone.

Wonolo’s cofounder and CEO, Aj Brustein, says the company implemented Bunker’s Occupational Accident Insurance because they’re “passionate about creating a community that people can be proud of, which means looking out for [workers] and having their backs as well.”

Providing Occupational Accident Insurance is a strategically savvy decision as well as a morally sound one. Gig marketplaces function on the assumption that when a customer has a need, a worker will be there to fill it. As more and more platforms begin to populate the same space, both workers and customers have the option to choose where they spend their time and money. Imagine trying to get an Uber if 70% of the drivers in your city suddenly decided to work exclusively for Lyft. Offering OAI makes gig marketplaces stand out against the growing competition, attracting enough workers to maintain a successful company. It also positions the company as an ethical leader in the gig economy, attracting customers who have several comparable choices in most cities.

Progressive benefits like OAI also secure a company’s reputation as innovative and flexible, two defining attributes of the gig economy. “We were offering something that no one else had,” said Brustein. “That improved the perception of Wonolo being Different, innovative and forward thinking.” Click below to download a case study on Bunker’s partnership with Wonolo, and learn more about how OAI is keeping their workers safe.

As more and more of the workforce becomes independent, the social safety net protecting employees will have to expand and adapt. Occupational Accident Insurance is a step in that direction. If innovative companies continue to prioritize the humans that make up the gig economy, the Future of Work will be a safe place for everyone.

Written by Bunker for Spend Matters – September, 2018.

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