Uber is Just the Beginning!

Much has been written about the recent Intact decision to partner with ride sharing giant Uber to provide insurance products to part-time drivers. The announcement essentially removes the number one criticism of the service, opening the door for further expansion.

But, Uber is just the tip of the new “sharing economy” that is changing the way we look at resources. Consider:

  • Airbnb is now the largest vacation accommodation provider in the world, connecting travelers with private owners who have unused accommodations they would like to rent.
  • RelayRides allows car owners to rent their vehicles for a few hours, when not being used
  • Boatbound connects watercraft owners with those seeking to rent a boat for a few hours or a few weeks
  • Snapgoods connects owners of high value items such as musical instruments, power tools and cameras with those needing them temporarily.

In the future, we can likely expect services that connect pilots to unused aircraft, introduces cargo haulers (companies and private individuals) who have excess capacity in their vehicles to those who need to ship something fast or cheap, and allows owners of expensive heavy equipment to earn money by renting their gear to someone in need.

Each of these poses an interesting insurance challenge, that likely makes most underwriters cringe. After all, our manuals tell us that mixing personal and commercial use is bad, right? And what is the wisdom of handing over expensive property to a stranger?

But that old-school thinking completely misses the opportunity that this new sharing economy offers. Insurers need to think of ways to offer insurance to these emerging risks; to respond to the needs of our customers, and do it profitably and responsibly.

The insurance industry has an opportunity to shape how these relationships are defined, and to lead, rather than respond.

All it takes is a fresh outlook, a lot of creativity, some true innovation, and a will to benefit from emerging opportunities.

Resources & inspiration

Lead the Pack or Follow the Leader: Insuring Risk in the Sharing Economy, Michael Costonis, Accenture, 2015

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