Where Tech Meets Tradition
From gig economy
workers to drone
owners, changes in
the insurance needs
of consumers and
businesses feed a
growing appetite for
By Graham Buck
The gig economy is growing. Nearly six million Americans, or 3. 8 percent of the U.S. workforce, now have “contingent” work arrangements, with a further 10. 6 million in categories such as independent contractors, on- call workers or temporary help agency staff and for-contract firms, often with well-known names such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb.
The number of Americans owning a drone is also increasing — one recent
survey suggested as much as one in 12 of the population — sparking vigorous
debate on how regulation should apply to where and when the devices operate.
Add to this other 21st century societal changes, such as consumers’ appetite for
other electronic gadgets and the advent of autonomous vehicles. It’s clear that the
cover offered by the annually renewable traditional insurance policy is often not
fit for purpose. Helped by the sophistication of insurance technology, the response
has been an expanding range of ‘on-demand’ covers.
The term ‘on-demand’ is open to various interpretations. For Scott Walchek,
founding chairman and CEO of pioneering on-demand insurance platform Tro;v,
it’s about “giving people agency over the items they own and enabling them to
turn on insurance cover whenever they want for whatever they want — often for
just a single item.”
“On-demand represents a whole new behavior and attitude towards insurance,
which for years has very much been a case of ‘get it and forget it,’ ” said Walchek.
Tro;v’s mobile app enables users to insure just a single item, such as a laptop,
whenever they wish and to also select the period of cover required. When ready to
buy insurance, they then snap a picture of the sales receipt or product code of the
item they want covered.
WELCOMING TR;V: A NEW ON-DEMAND ARRIVAL
While Walchek, who set up Tro;v in 2012, stressed it’s a technology company
and not an insurance company, it has attracted industry giants such as AXA
and Munich Re as partners. Tro; v began the U.S. roll-out of its on-demand
personal property products this summer by launching in Arizona, having already
established itself in Australia and the United Kingdom.
“Australia and the UK were great testing grounds, thanks to their single
regulatory authorities,” said Walchek. “Tro; v is already approved in 45 states, and
we expect to complete the process in all by November.
“On-demand products have a particular appeal to millennials who love the idea of
having control via their smart devices and have embraced the concept of an unbundling
of experiences: 75 percent of our users are in the 18 to 35 age group,” he added.
“But a mass of tectonic societal shifts is also impacting older generations — on-demand cover fits the new ways in which they work, particularly the ‘untethered’
who aren’t always in the same workplace or using the same device. So we see on-demand going into societal lifestyle changes.”
WOOING BABY BOOMERS
In addition to its backing for Tro;v, across the Atlantic, AXA has partnered with
Insurtech start-up By Miles, launching a pay-as-you-go car insurance policy in the
UK. The product is promoted as low-cost car insurance for drivers who travel no
more than 140 miles per week, or 7,000 miles annually.
“Due to the growing need for these
products, companies such as Marmalade
— cover for learner drivers — and
Cuvva — cover for part-time drivers —
have also increased in popularity, and we
expect to see more enter the market in
the near future,” said AXA UK’s head of
telematics, Katy Simpson.
Simpson confirmed that the new
products’ initial appeal is to younger
motorists, who are more regular users of
new technology, while older drivers are
warier about sharing too much personal
• Various new start-ups are
offering on-demand insurance
• On-demand insurance has a big
following with millennials, but
baby boomers could benefit most.
• Insurtech-insurers are
collaborating on this endeavor.
“On-demand represents a
whole new behavior and
attitude towards insurance,
which for years has very
much been a case of ‘get it
and forget it.’ ”
— Scott Walchek, founding chairman and
The on-demand economy has given rise to a growing need for on-demand insurance.