07 November 2018
Outsourcing Risks

Finding the right trade or professional to do an odd job or help around the home can often be challenging, particularly if it is a ‘once off’ task or too small for regular trades to undertake.

Recognising an opportunity existed, Airtasker sought to fill this gap when they launched in 2012.

Airtasker is a popular platform that “connects people who need to outsource tasks and find local services, with people who are looking to earn money and are ready to work”.

The work “taskers” (the name given to those people you may potentially engage to do some work) can do is varied and ranges from cleaning, gardening and handyman work through to graphic design and website creation.  People who need to outsource a task, post a description of what they need and the location, together with a set budget.  ‘Taskers’ then go and bid for the work if they are interested and available.

The tasks vary on a daily basis, but a quick check of the site reveals there are a lot of tasks that are quite varied and include everything from requiring singers, through to people needed to jack hammer quartz from a pool and everything in between.  There are a lot of people looking for furniture to be moved between apartments or to pick up and deliver one off items like an armchair.

For the most part it all works well – that is, until someone is injured in the course of doing the task they have been contracted for, or if the person doing the contracting is injured as a result of poor workmanship.  It is here the water can muddy quickly.

When a contract is agreed via the Airtasker  site, and money is exchanged, Airtasker takes a small fee. The fee includes a small surcharge which goes toward a Third-Party Liability Policy which insures taskers for liability for personal injury or property damage. It is important to note this insurance only applies to covered activities carried out by the tasker who is assigned the contract, not additional persons who may assist.

The insurance policy, which is freely available online, clearly lists what is and isn’t covered by the insurance and it’s important for ‘taskers’ and those engaging their services to understand it’s limitations.

The purpose of the list of ‘covered activities’ is to restrict Airtasker services to simple low-risk activities which require little to no skill. However, many commonly advertised tasks are excluded from Airtasker’s insurance cover. Some examples include:

  • Child minding
  • The use of any mechanised equipment (excluding lawn mowers or powered hand tools)
  • Any interior construction or kitchen installation
  • Moving of large furniture, fridges and cabinets etc
  • Driving instruction
  • Contact Sports Lessons
  • Food preparation for more than 100 people
  • In general, the use of any task which requires professional skills or qualifications at any point in its performance may not be covered by insurance

The sharing economy is still relatively new in Australia, and many traditional insurance contracts are insufficient to meet the evolving needs of this market. Perhaps the greatest concern for users of Airtasker is the potential liability, if a gap in Airtasker insurance leaves the homeowner exposed.

Using the services of the shared economy, such as Uber, Airbnb and Airtasker is a great way to reduce your costs.  However, you need to keep in mind that if you engage anyone via a shared services platform, you need to understand your obligations and the associated risks, particularly if the job requires the skills of a licenced operator who you should ensure has all the required licences and insurances to conduct the work safely.

For more information on what tasks are not covered by Airtasker’s insurance policy please refer to their website at:  https://www.airtasker.com/insurance/