Why It Matters

More ways to help freelancers

The first standalone insurance product to help freelancers mitigate the loss of income during a period of prolonged illness was rolled out earlier this month.

Through GigaCover's Freelancer Income Protection (Flip) policy, self-employed persons - such as private-hire car drivers and sports coaches - can receive daily cash benefits when they are on long medical leave or hospitalised.

A product like Flip answers the call from a tripartite workgroup that released a list of seven recommendations in February to better support freelancers. Besides suggesting more avenues for dispute resolution and proposing a new Medisave contribution model, the tripartite workgroup pointed out that there was a gap in insurance coverage for self-employed individuals.

While freelancers can purchase riders on top of their personal insurance policies to protect their income when they fall on hard times, they do not have a standalone insurance product which meets this need.

Freelance workers have grown in prominence in recent years, driven by the rise of the gig economy and the pervasiveness of technology platforms such as ride-hailing and food delivery.

A Ministry of Manpower survey released in March showed that about 223,500 residents were self-employed over the year ending in June last year, increasing from 200,100 in 2016.

While insurance schemes such as Flip give freelancers an option to buy peace of mind, companies can also support them.

Take a page from PropNex Realty, which announced a healthcare benefits scheme for self-employed real estate agents in March, to help them better manage the costs of medical care.

Ride-hailing firm Grab has also teamed up with Chubb Insurance Singapore to offer a personal accident plan to its drivers, which offers income protection if they meet with an accident.

Freelancers play a vital role in the economy, and it is critical that they are looked after.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2018, with the headline 'More ways to help freelancers'. Print Edition | Subscribe