Tim Attia, co-founder and CEO of Slice Labs, said there’s “a ticking time bomb” threatening the on-demand economy — namely, insurance and liability.
Attia’s tackling that problem with Slice, which will offer insurance for on-demand workers and providers, starting with rideshare drivers and then homeshare hosts. The startup is announcing today that it has raised $3.9 million in seed funding from Horizon Ventures and XL Innovate.
Don’t companies like Uber and Airbnb provide insurance already? They do, but Attia (who’s spent more than a decade in the insurance industry) argued that there’s still a significant amount of risk.
For example, Uber's coverage changes depending on where the driver is in the process (going online versus accepting the trip versus starting the ride), with the expectation that the driver will have their own personal or commercial policy. He also said Uber’s policy is in Uber’s name, not the driver’s, which could lead to legal complications.
“I’m not picking on Uber and Airbnb — it’s the only thing they can do,” Attia said.
Slice, on the other hand, aims to offer new kinds of insurance products designed for on-demand workers. These products will be available on a transactional basis — so a ridesharing driver should be covered from the moment they start driving or get into the car, but they’re only paying for coverage during the time that they’re working (making it more affordable than just taking out a pricey commercial insurance policy).
Technically, another firm is providing the actual insurance, but it sounds like Slice is doing most of the actual work.
“Our product — we price it, we issue it, we bill, we manage claims, but we’re not taking risk,” Attia said. “We’re writing on somebody else’s policy, on somebody else’s paper. We’re doing everything an insurance company does minus the investing.”
Attia plans to launch Slice’s first products in June. Even though Slice is based in New York City, Attia said he’s still deciding where to offer coverage first. He also hopes to work with on-demand services to offer Slice insurance through the service’s sign-up process.
He added that over time, Slice can use data to improve its products and pricing, for example determining whether “an uberX behaves more like a person because it’s their car, or if they behave more like a cab.”