Aon partners with Bunker to enable digital economy companies to manage contractor business insurance

Aon — a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement, and health solutions — and Bunker, a self-described “instant business insurance and compliance platform for independent workers and enterprises,” announced a partnership to address the compliance management needs of Aon’s growing base of “digital economy” clients. Spend Matters has been following Bunker since its inception in 2017.

According to the announcement, “the partnership provides Aon and their clients access to Bunker’s compliance platform and Live Certificate of Insurance, ensuring an organization’s contractors, independent workers and vendors are compliant with insurance standards in real-time.” Aon clients’ contractors can optionally purchase one of Bunker’s innovative independent worker insurance products.

The following article looks at this unique partnership, based on our own prior research and on conversations with individuals at Aon and Bunker.

With Regard to Aon

The partnership with Bunker was established within Aon’s Digital Practice, a part of Aon’s Commercial Risk group. We spoke to Jillian Slyfield, Aon’s Head of the Digital Practice, who told us that the practice was formed in May 2018 “specifically to address the changing risk issues our clients were having as a result of our clients digital capabilities. In some cases those are clients who come out of the digital world. Many of those are sharing economy companies. Others are companies that have legacy businesses, but — because of new digital capabilities — their risk profiles are changing.”

“Aon has always provided enterprise solutions for commercial business risk,” Slyfield said. “But now, digital economy companies also have a consumer impact and potentially an independent contractor impact. And if all of those pieces aren't working, then the business models of digital economy companies kind of fall apart.”

It’s not just the Ubers and Lyfts of the world. According to Slyfield, “legacy companies can now have new risk issues associated with their new digital capabilities. A good example is retailers that have independent contractors who will shop on behalf of a consumer at a particular retailer and then drop those goods off at the retailer or sitting at the consumer's home. What we are addressing are the risk issues associated with having someone show up at your door who may drop off the groceries when you're not even home.” Slyfield quipped,  “What could go wrong?”

Returning to the Bunker partnership, Slyfield continued, “there's a real challenge in trying to manage risk, whether you are a national consumer building-supply company and have tens of thousands of vendors [contractors] who do roofing or conditioning install carpeting etc. or if you're a global ride sharing platform and you have drivers. No matter who your independent contractors are, if you can't wrap your arms around their insurance as it relates to your business, then there's definitely a massive exposure gap. I think Bunker is a perfect solution for that gap. The Bunker compliance platform can help our clients track the certificate of insurance and make sure that there's one in place. And if it's not in place, then there’s Bunker’s insurance fulfillment services for the contractors to get the insurance that they need to work with our client.”

With Regard to Bunker

Bunker’s business model is to engage with companies that use/manage independent workers and, alternatively, intermediaries (such as MSPs, consulting firms, etc.) that provide solutions that support those companies in that task. Bunker’s partnership with Aon includes a bit of both in different measures.

Chad Nitschke, co-Founder and CEO of Bunker, stated in the announcement: “We’re grateful for the opportunity to work with Aon and help serve clients in the dynamic and expanding on-demand economy. Whether you’re a gig economy platform, a Fortune 500 company leveraging contingent workers, or a general contractor managing subcontractors — Bunker ensures that your independent workforce is instantly insured and 100% compliant. Matching Aon’s scale and expertise with Bunker’s technology is a win/win for those companies.”

According to the announcement, Bunker’s compliance platform will allow Aon clients to “manage proof of insurance in real-time, streamlining a process that has historically been manual. In addition to automating the insurance verification process, contractors and vendors are able to easily comply with requirements through usage-based insurance products that are embedded digitally in an organization’s on-boarding process.”

Bunker offers these digital, insurance compliance capabilities/services to its business clients: the certificate management technology platform, online insurance requirements assessments for companies and continuous screening, ongoing verification and monitoring of insurance certificates.

Besides supporting companies’ risk/compliance management as it pertains to insurance, Bunker offers unique insurance fulfillment to contractors. First, Bunker enables contractors to rapidly obtain usage-based, project-specific general and professional liability insurance, and they “secure proof of coverage in as little as 2 minutes,” according to the announcement. Second, contractors can also purchase Occupational Accident Insurance (OAI), which Bunker describes as an “equitable gig economy replacement for workers' compensation.”

Bunker, an innovator from “day one,” continues its platform build-out to support other digital features/services. In January of this year, Spend Matters reported that Bunker launched “Live Certificate of Insurance” that “turns certificates of insurance (COI) into ‘live’ documents to meet the way people work today — mobile, freelance and ever evolving.”

In the end the Bunker business model depends upon selling more business-side companies and intermediaries (something that Bunker was doing very well at, before the Aon partnership). Now the partnership with Aon opens a new, potentially significant for the 3-year-old company.

Separately, Bunker’s Nitschke told us: “One of the reasons we're excited about the Aon partnership is that it is accelerating our expansion plans, leveraging the scale of Aon as a global insurance leader and working closely with their clients. To us, expansion means not only verifying and providing insurance for contractors & independent workers, but also moving into procurement, vendors, construction, and any situation where business insurance is required as part of a contract or on-boarding process.”

“Businesses more and more have on-demand expectations,” Nitschke said, “and our platform removes insurance as a barrier and solves for compliance across all types of work they are engaging — vendors or contractors. As an example, our platform recently helped an organization reduce their time to verify insurance from an average of 8 days, to less than 24 hours.”

SpendMatters considers Bunker a key player in the emerging independent workforce ecosystem, which has been covered in a continuing PRO series, “Sourcing and Engaging the Independent/Freelance Workforce — An Emerging Ecosystem?” Part 1, Part 2 , Part 3 (Parts 4 and 5 pending).

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