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The importance of insurance in the sharing economy

Samantha Lingham is the founder of Share Our Style, the first sharing economy platform for sharing designer handbags with a ‘borrow don’t buy’ focus. GUARDHOG is delighted that Sam is sharing her tips about insurance with us from the point of view of platform entrepreneur.

Stuff sharing is a growing phenomenon… and one that fits perfectly with the new idea that experience is more important than ownership. But while sharing our homes and cars has become the ‘new normal’ for many of us, the idea of sharing our ‘stuff’ is relatively recent in the UK.

By ‘stuff’ I mean anything from bikes and surfboards to garden equipment or camera gear. Why spend hundreds on something you might only use a couple of times when you can rent it for a lot less… and enjoy the fact that you not only have a less cluttered home, you aren’t a ‘consumer’ any more – you’re part of the sharing economy! And (the clue’s in the word ‘economy ‘…) if you’re lucky enough to have a valuable item sitting around your home, you can put it to good use and make some extra cash.

Online marketplaces that allow us to borrow and share like this are springing up all over the place – and they’re exactly what inspired me to set up my sharing economy platform. I’ve always had a penchant for designer bags but I was also conscious of the fact that they were an expensive outlay, and that as I bought more and more, many of them went unused. I pictured bag owners all over the country thinking the same, wondered how I could connect everyone… and Share Our Style was born.

Following not far behind came the question, ‘What on earth will I do about insurance?”. I couldn’t imagine that there was a company actually set up to deal with peer-to-peer marketplaces. But then I found GUARDHOG, and breathed again. Their insurance is specifically designed for platforms like mine – and supports both me and my users.

Because I’ve been on the journey, I’ve learnt a few things on the way – so here are my five insurance tips for ‘stuff sharing’ platform entrepreneurs…

  1. Insurance helps you build trust – so don’t scrimp on it

Sharing is about creating a community be it online or in person. And the basis of any relationship is trust, so we need to build it. That’s why insurance was a key consideration for Share Our Style from the very beginning.

  1. Remember – people will still do crazy things

You can’t stop that – it’s part of life. So you need to remember insurance is not there to permit reckless behaviour: it offers a back-up. At Share Our Style, we wanted to be able to offer our bag owners peace of mind should anything go wrong during a rental.

  1. Go for a specialist insurance provider

The insurance industry is proving slow to catch up with the sharing economy, and I found a lack of understanding of peer-to-peer rental. Luckily, the GUARDHOG team is immersed in the sharing economy and not only do they see the need for ‘stuff cover’, but they launched it before anyone else in the UK.

  1. Look for cover that’s clear and hassle-free

What I liked about GUARDHOG was that they offered three options for platforms – each with a different level of integration. It was really clear to me what would work for my start-up business and as soon as I contacted them I felt the stress I’d been feeling about insurance slip away.

  1. Keep in mind insurance may give you the edge

Offering insurance isn’t just a box you need to tick, or something to give your members peace of mind. It can also help you grow your membership base and even help you get an edge over the competition.

 

 

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