Uber Eats will start catering to the European gig economy by offering courier insurance to its workers, the company said earlier this month. The food delivery servicing is planning an AXA package covering everything from property damage and personal accidents to third-party injuries and cash benefits in cases of hospitalization due to injury or severe sickness. The move comes as part of the firm's attempt to alleviate some of the recently raised concerns about the working conditions of its couriers that are generally treated as either freelancers, owners of standalone businesses, or contractors working via a third party. Both politicians and various unions across Europe previously criticized Uber and a number of other on-demand service providers conducive to the freelancer-centric gig economy, saying that such businesses reduce the average quality of life.
The new insurance plan will be made available on January 8th, the firm revealed, adding that couriers in all European countries in which it currently operates will benefit from it. Uber Eats is presently available in nine countries on the Old Continent: the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Poland, Belgium, Austria, and the Netherlands. The upcoming insurance package will cover both independent couriers and those performing Uber Eats deliveries through an intermediary, with Uber being set to pay for the entire package, the company said. The insurance package is also related to one of the main arguments Transport for London gave to Uber when refusing its operating license renewal in late September, citing poor working conditions as evidence of the company's lack of corporate responsibility. While the move is unlikely to change the regulator's decision on its own, it's understood to be a start of a major policy shift that doesn't pursue growth above everything else.
Uber Eats couriers covered by the package will be reimbursed by up to €7,500 ($8,850) in medical expenses for hospitalization, with that particular threshold being enough to cover the majority of costs usually associated with such accidents in Europe. Uber is presently in the process of reinventing its severely damaged corporate image as its new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has essentially been on an apology tour since taking over the company in late August, seeking to repair its damaged relations with regulators and other parties in order to prepare for an IPO in 2019.