COVID, fast-food and couriers
COVID-19 saw restaurant closures and lockdowns, leading to everyone spending a lot of time at home. Consequently, fast-food and takeaway orders rapidly increased. The boom in fast food takeaways quickly resulted in a boom for the courier industry. In a very short space of time, demand for couriers increased rapidly as fast-food operators struggled to get orders out fast enough. For many people, this was great news and presented a job opportunity in a time where some people were on furlough or struggling for money.
This industry trend does not seem to be slowing down, as restrictions have been lifted, takeaway delivery orders are still on the up. With takeaways and delivery services such as Just Eat, Uber Eats and Deliveroo advertising for new drivers, the courier industry boom looks set to continue. Just Eat reported a 700% increase in deliveries after expanding its courier service and Uber Eats reported a 150% increase in deliveries compared to last year. However, it wasn’t a smooth ride for everyone, with Deliveroo making huge losses at the beginning of the pandemic. As many large chain takeaways were forced to close, Deliveroo did not have the range of local restaurants and other resources to survive. However, they were saved by £450m of funding from Amazon. This investment has since enabled them to achieve 100% market growth.
Furthermore, it’s not just takeaways contributing to the courier industry boom; the introduction of fast grocery delivery services is also adding to the demand. Organisations such as Weezy and Gorillas currently operate in several UK cities and have plans to expand. They mainly operate out of dark stores which are small distribution centres where couriers pick up and deliver small grocery orders. Although these services currently only account for a small amount of takeaway spend, they are expected to grow rapidly. From busy parents who’ve ran out of baby formula to hosts who’ve ran out snacks and beer, these services appeal to all demographics. With delivery charges starting at around 99p and taking between 10 and 30 minutes, depending on the service, for many it’s far more efficient than going out to the shop. With more deliveries to be made, the demand for couriers grows.
Getting the right courier insurance
Unsurprisingly, the increased demand for couriers has also resulted in an increased demand for courier insurance. This is evidenced by data from Quotezone which showed a 140% increase in just a few months. Although many food couriers typically use cars, mopeds are also a popular choice as they can be cheaper to insure for younger couriers and are easier to navigate through busy areas. However, it is important as a courier to ensure that you have the right insurance policy in place. For example, some employers may provide cover for you whilst making a delivery, but not on the way to pick it up.
Those who deliver for Uber Eats and Deliveroo are typically self-employed and are not covered by the companies. Their websites state that you must have your own vehicle insurance which includes food delivery purposes, such as a Social, Domestic & Pleasure policy with the addition of ‘Hire & Reward’ cover. Hire & Reward means you are insured to carry goods in return for payment. Deliveroo do however, provide free Public Liability whilst couriers are walking to collect or drop off an order.
Just Eat has recently begun offering some deliverers employee contracts, providing them with holiday and sick pay, but not insurance. According to their website, couriers must also have their own cover. Therefore, couriers will need to discuss their insurance policy thoroughly with their insurer to adequately protect themselves. It is also worth noting that even bike and e-bike couriers should have courier insurance, as food delivery can be a high-risk job. Couriers may also want to consider other types of insurance such as Liability and Personal Injury due to the long periods of time spent outside and on the roads.
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