Insurance for the sharing economy

Held on Monday, June 13, 2016


  • Jonathan Howe (PwC)

  • Emma Bate (partner, DAC Beachcroft)

  • Cristiano Pizzocheri (co-founder and CEO, SafeShare Insurance)

  • Michael Mainelli (co-founder and director, Z/Yen)

  • Merilee Karr (CEO, UnderTheDoormat)

  • Ari Kestin (CEO, Nimber)




The sharing economy is “about connecting demand to spare capacity” (to quote a recent PwC report). That has never been easier, thanks to online platforms and online payments. Whether you are searching for accommodation, transportation, equipment or labour, chances are that someone, somewhere has what you need – and that they are active on a platform.

All well and good, until something goes wrong. Platforms typically offer basic protection, but even the biggest do not claim to cover all eventualities. We, therefore, need to think about insurance – but, since a selling point of these platforms is simplicity, it’s not clear how much time or energy users are really willing to put in.

So, what does “user-friendly” insurance look like in the sharing economy? That’s partly a question about where insurance generally is going – see the talk about on-demand and individualised insurance, low-friction (smartphone-friendly) claims management, smart contracts, and advanced methods for pricing risk. Can the sharing economy benefit from these innovations? And what can platforms, (re-)insurers, brokers and regulators do to help buyers and sellers stay protected?

To explore the problems (and opportunities), I am delighted that we have been able to put together a wide-ranging panel:

  • Jonathan Howe leads PwC's UK insurance practice.  He has been with PwC for over 20 years and is responsible for audit, tax, actuarial, consulting and deals. Recently he has focused on the rise of InsurTech and the opportunities that new technologies and sophisticated data and analytics can bring to the industry.
  • Emma Bate is a partner in DAC Beachcroft’s insurance practice, and recently concluded a secondment as senior legal adviser for an international insurer. DAC Beachcroft partnered with BIBA to produce the trade body’s 2014 guidelines for insurance in the sharing economy.
  • Cristiano Pizzocheri and Michael Mainelli have implemented a mutual distributed ledger (ie blockchain) product used by several parties, including Vrumi (“the AirBnB of shared workspaces”), SafeShare (a broker) and a Lloyd’s underwriter. Cristiano is co-founder and CEO of SafeShare, which develops insurance products for sharing economy platforms, and previously spent 12 years in the Lloyd’s insurance market. Michael is a co-founder and director of Z/Yen (which is working on various blockchain projects), an emeritus professor of commerce at Gresham College, and a former partner at Binder Hamlyn.
  • Merilee Karr is the founder and CEO of UnderTheDoormat, which manages homes when Londoners are away and lets them out to business travellers and tourists.  Before starting the company, Merilee spent over a decade with Shell in global strategy and retail property management.

  • Ari Kestin is the CEO of Nimber, a platform which brings the sharing economy concept to deliveries. He is a serial entrepreneur, and a former director of EMEA business development at Peco II (now GE Energy).

The sharing economy is set to grow like Topsy, meaning it is in everyone’s interests to untangle the insurance knot.