Gig Workers: Tap into Voluntary Benefits

March 4, 2024
Gig work opens the door for insurance carriers, agents, and brokers to present benefits as an option

Did you know that 26% of gig-only workers are now in the U.S. workforce and that 83% of these workers are gig-only workers by choice? That said, 47% of them are challenged by the lack of traditional benefits afforded them. (LIMRA) This opens the door for insurance carriers, agents, and brokers to present voluntary benefits as an option for their clients using gig workers. In fact, there is a growing trend and opportunity in this area.

What Prompted the Gig Economy to Expand?

The past decade has seen the number of gig workers steadily increasing. Initially attributed to workers looking for extra cash and who turned to app-based platforms like Uber and Lyft, the number of gig-only workers has since grown considerably. In 2022, 36% of the U.S. workforce or an estimated 58 million people consisted of independent workers; up from 27% in 2016. Gig workers specifically increased by 170% between 2019 and 2021. (“2024 Gig Economy Statistics: 10 Key Facts on Workers, Income, Gender Gaps,”

Some cite the pandemic as a driving force in the growth of the gig workforce due to social distancing, remote working, and the aforementioned delivery and transportation service opportunities. Further, as employers seek specific skill sets and have difficulty recruiting full-time employees to meet their needs, they have become more receptive to gig workers. Other drivers include inflation and rising prices. Currently, 37% of gig workers are 18-24 years of age or members of Gen Z. (McKinsey) Fifty three percent (53%) are male and 47% are female. (2024 Gig Economy Statistics…)

Seizing the Opportunity

In the LIMRA/EY report titled “Harnessing growth and seizing opportunity: the future of workforce benefits,” one broker interviewed said, “We are seeing great interest in voluntary benefits for nontraditional workers” to which another agreed stating, “There is a lot of opportunity to develop programs geared for gig and 1099 workers.”

Still, capitalizing on this interest requires consideration as to the composition of the gig workforce. It is comprised of Gen X, Y, Z and Baby Boomers; however, Gen Z represents the largest percentage of gig workers. Each generation has unique needs based on their life stage. As one broker put it, “Some products will be popular with the millennials and Gen Z. Some will be popular with the boomers and Generation X. If you have something that only targets one side or the other, it is going to be hard to hit participation requirements.”

Addressing Financial Concerns

Among the top concerns of gig workers are meeting their financial needs based on their life stage and addressing their mental health. Having the ability to purchase life insurance (both whole life and term) and short-term or long-term disability insurance, in particular, as well as student debt solutions are among the voluntary benefits they seek through their employers. Gig workers also indicate that they would like access to mental health benefits. For employers, offering gig workers the opportunity to select from the same full suite of voluntary benefits offered to full-time and part-time employees would be appealing.

Using digital platforms and mobile apps to present information on these benefits that increase workers’ financial literacy and enable them to personalize the benefits that matter most to their situation is paramount. For benefit providers, advising their clients on the state of the gig economy and how they can help gig workers is key to capturing more opportunities in this growing market.