The gig economy continues to bring significant benefits for those working in the courier industry, including flexible labour hours and schedules plus that extra money in the pocket for casual deliverers. But you still must stay safe and legal, and that’s why having the correct courier insurance is indispensable in this often-high-risk occupation.
According to a 2020 report by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), it’s been estimated that 162 million people worldwide are employed as independent workers. Official statistics suggest that there are five million people in the UK who are self-employed.
It is not known how many of these five million people are working as part of the gig economy but official data estimates that around 4.4% of the Great Britain population have completed some work for the gig economy within the last 12 months (which equates to around 2.8 million people).
Topics covered in RoSPA’s new guidance are the importance of maintaining bikes, motorcycles and motor vehicles, how to avoid tiredness while on the road, and how to drive safely in the dark.
Eyes on the Road
Driving is one of the most dangerous activities that most of us will ever do, and driving for work tends to be risker than driving for private reasons. People who drive professionally are more likely to crash even after their higher mileages are taken into consideration.
RoSPA’s safety tips include a reminder that it is illegal to use a handheld mobile phone while driving, whether for calls, texts, taking photos or using social media. This is pertinent because many gig workers use apps on their phone to monitor workload and communicate with customers.
The penalty for using your phone while behind the wheel is a £200 fine and six points on your licence and, if a collision happens while using your phone for any reason, you could be charged for careless driving.
Employees in the Gig Economy
If you have employees, then you are legally obliged to put employer’s liability insurance in place. Public liability cover can also be included as part of a cost-effective courier insurance policy that could protect your business from claims by members of the public who are injured or suffer a loss as a result of your work.
For those employed as part of a delivery fleet, you must understand and follow your employer’s driving for work policies. They are likely to have policies and procedures to make sure your vehicle is registered, taxed, has a valid MOT certificate and is insured for business use.
Their safe driving policies could include vehicle checks, journey planning, driver assessment and training, driver fitness, speed, alcohol and drugs, mobile phones and other distractions, passenger safety and reporting accidents and incidents.
Employer’s will also probably want to check your driving licence at regular intervals to ensure that it remains valid for the vehicle you are driving.
Many of those who ride for the gig economy use motorcycles as part of their job, particularly in the food delivery industry. Many riders use smaller motorcycles (less than 125cc) or mopeds.
To ride on public roads, you first need to get a provisional licence and then complete compulsory basic training (CBT) to get a certificate. You must pass both parts of your practical test within two years of taking the theory test. You also have to display L plates and you cannot carry passengers.
Courier Insurance: Staying Legal
Courier insurance is designed to protect you as a courier, as well as the vehicle you drive and the cargo you transport. Getting the right type of courier insurance for you depends on the type of business you run.
Courier insurance premiums tend to be more expensive than private vehicle insurance. That’s because there are additional risks associated with the high mileage, making multiple stops and working against the clock. Added to this, your policy will need goods in transit insurance to cover your cargo in case it’s lost, stolen or damaged in transit while visiting multiple locations in a hurry.
While no one likes to fork out for insurance, failing to put courier insurance in place could bring a premature end to your business if you were involved in an accident or your vehicle or goods were stolen. Any policy should also protect you against the risks you pose to other road users as well as their vehicles, property and persons.
Even if you use a personal car to deliver time-sensitive parcels, courier insurance is still a necessity as private car, motorbike or van insurance won’t provide adequate cover for this specific type of use and could leave you dangerously exposed.
Courier insurance can also include public liability, employer’s liability and a wide range of different cover types to protect you against every eventuality.
The levels of cover currently available include:
- Third party only – This is the minimum cover required by law and will protect third party liabilities in the event of an accident.
- Third party fire and theft – Includes the same cover as third party only with the addition of protection for fire or the theft of your vehicle.
- Comprehensive – Provides the same cover as third-party fire and theft but also protects you and your vehicle for any damage sustained as a result of an accident. You should also add to that provision for goods in transit cover in case of loss, damage or theft to your cargo whilst en route.
For more information visit: https://www.rospa.com/media/documents/road-safety/factsheets/driving-for-work-gig-economy-guide.pdf