Insurtech company tackles benefits for freelancers

One insurtech company is hoping to make it easier for gig workers and freelancers to get access to insurance.

New York-based Trupo is offering three new insurance products — accident, dental, specified disease and cancer — through its online tool for freelance workers. Gig workers in New York now have access to the benefits, with plans to deploy more widely throughout the U.S. over the next year, says Trupo CEO Sara Horowitz.

“So much for our structures are around the employer system. We don’t have the infrastructure for this new workforce,” Horowitz says of freelancers.

Trupo recommends insurance to freelancers based on their responses to a number of actuarial questions — in the same way an HR department would suggest benefits to an employee, Horowitz says.

See also: Is gig work threatening workers’ financial futures?

“We ask them a series of questions and then we give them the appropriate benefits package. They can look at it and say I want more of one thing or less of it,” she says.

The insurtech has a partnership with Colonial Life & Accident Insurance as well as freelancers groups including nonprofit Coworker.org, the Freelancers Union, the Authors Guild and Graphic Artists Guild. Horowitz says accident plans start at about $18 per month and dental plans at $34 per month.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that about 10.6 million workers cite contract work as their primary source of income — but few have access to traditional employer-sponsored benefits.

Employers and tech companies have stepped up to address the growing need for gig worker benefits. For example, EY has an internal tool GigNow which uses advanced search and ranking capabilities to sort through freelancers’ skills and match them with openings at the company. Benefit provider Businessolver offers MyChoiceMarket, which employers can use to provide portable benefits and Mercer uses WorldMarket, a cloud-based freelance management platform.

See also: Portable benefits: Perks for the gig economy

Horowitz says freelancers need access to high-quality benefits. For example, it is important for any worker who is physically showing up to an office to have accident insurance, just in case they are injured on the job. Without that safety net, things can quickly become expensive.

“If you have an accident and you’re out of work, it can be a calamitous situation,” Horowitz says.

Horowitz says employers are likely going to have to respond to the growing number of gig workers entering the workforce. The federal government may also need to deploy a national strategy to ensure freelancers have a safety net of benefits, she adds.

“We [have to] think about what is the best way to reach the new workforce, so that we all have the benefits that we all need as a country,” she says.

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