Gig workers have been hard hit by COVID. Freelance designers, Uber drivers, chefs and independent consultants alike have little visibility about when pre-pandemic life will return and their careers can resume. They were not protected against such a life-altering event: the crisis has been an awakening to the importance of income protection insurance.
As the first lockdown gripped London, we met a founder-to-be (via Zoom) who had identified this urgent unmet need years earlier. At AXA in Paris, Vikas Chhariya realised that freelancers do not have equal access to protection solutions for their income and lifestyle compared to their full-time peers. There is limited flexibility or protection should a worker become ill or otherwise have their work interrupted; they do not always have a government’s social security safety net in those circumstances.
Indeez offers a safety net to independent workers who source work through work marketplaces, providing income protection directly through these platforms. Indeez products are designed to help marketplaces to increase engagement and trust within their communities. It does so by aligning closely with the business model and growth of its marketplace partners; for example, insurance benefits that are bespoke to the community tiers, or pricing that is usage based i.e. miles driven or other units of labour. This aligns closely the interest of all stakeholders, and drives change in customer behavior. Indeez is also focused on prioritizing the most urgent needs of independent workers. Last week, Indeez debuted #CoviSure an EU-first covid protection product that provides lump sum benefit for lost income of independent workers in case of covid infection. The product is an audacious effort to build a European coalition of digital marketplaces providing covid protection to their independent worker community.
Covid was an important catalyst, but there has been an urgent unmet need pre-dating the pandemic. Platforms that benefit from gig workers are being held responsible for their workers’ rights (France, California + Berlin + Japan + Canada). Further, as competition increases between these platforms, worker loyalty and retention becomes a difficult and expensive problem. Indeez empowers platforms to support their communities of independent workers, offering an attractive and differentiated benefit for their most loyal users.
On the other side of the equation, more and more people are building careers out of flexible work. In 2018, 40% of US workers generated 40%+ of their income working independently, with 63% of freelancers doing so by choice, rather than necessity. These trends are global: in the UK, for example, the gig economy doubled in 2018.
Despite incredible demand, traditional carriers have been slow to develop protection products that work for both platforms and their independent workers. Innovating in insurance is no small task. And yet, most US and European workers are underinsured against income loss from sickness or injury, with 40% consumers in the US unable to meet a $400 short term emergency. Building a transformative insurtech startup requires a unique combination of product ingenuity and deep industry experience:we are delighted to have found both in spades in the Indeez founding team.
Founder and CEO Vikas has been a successful intrapreneur who built innovative products and new business models at scale in various roles at American Express and AXA, including the largest gig protection program for the likes of Uber and BlaBlaCar. We are proud to back Vikas and the Indeez founding team of Agnes and Charles, to develop Indeez to protect the independent workers of the world and to build the next-generation financial services provider for the gig economy