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On the Move to Marketplace Risk: Micro Mobility Q&A with Lime's Rob MacKethan

As summer gets into full swing and more people are venturing out, micro mobility offers a new and exciting solution to transportation. Aon and Marketplace Risk sat down with Rob MacKethan, VP of Insurance and Risk Management at Lime, to discuss how the last year affected their business and how proper risk management protocols help drive a business forward, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

Can you give us a brief introduction and speak to your experience in the micro mobility sector?

I jumped into the micro mobility sector about two years ago when I joined Lime as its first official Risk Manager. I’ve spent 35 years in the P&C space with leadership roles in underwriting, product and distribution for both commercial and personal lines. Of late, my attention has been focussed on edges of innovation. Lime is my fourth startup.

The sector as a whole has grown exponentially over the last few years, including during a trying 2020. Can you walk through what challenges and opportunities arose out of the last year?

The pandemic initially presented a significant challenge for Lime’s business, as it did for many businesses. At Lime, we made the difficult decision to shut down our operations in all but a handful of markets in early 2020. As the year progressed, we began to cautiously reopen markets and found that demand for single-passenger, open-air transportation was strong. By the end of 2020, we were back to breaking records. One key learning was the importance of usage-based pricing for our core insurance spend. Fortunately, I had already put that in place, so when our trip volume dipped in the early part of the year, our insurance expenses stayed on track as a percent of revenue.

From a risk management perspective, what has changed since you entered the industry? Have there been any paradigm shifts in how you think about protecting Lime, your riders, and other adjacent parties?

The insurance industry’s response to micro mobility is rapidly evolving. At Lime, we’re seeing a much needed acceleration in the number of insurers supporting the space. It’s really remarkable how quickly we’ve improved from where the market was just two years ago when I joined Lime. Having said that, there continue to be under-served opportunities for underwriters. An example is domestic general liability, for which the industry needs a lot more capacity and pricing is quite high. Another area in which Lime has taken a leadership position is in providing insurance protections for our customers. Our rider insurance program is now live in 22 countries in EMEA.

Micro mobility is a marketplace that connects people with new and exciting transportation needs to encourage efficient, green transportation. Several companies, including yours, have begun to implement electric moped transportation. Mopeds present a host of different risk challenges. What advice would you give budding companies when managing new and evolving risks?

At Lime, we take a test-and-learn approach to any new risk. In the case of mopeds, we’re running a pretty small pilot, limited to three markets (Paris, DC and NYC). Our plan is to run the pilot until we can make well-informed, confident decisions about if, where and when to expand. I think this is the right approach and we’ve been able to secure insurance for the pilot from our existing insurers. I actually don’t see too big a gap between the risk profile of mopeds and our other vehicle platforms.

The Aon Digital Economy practice sees a trifurcated model as key to efficiently managing risk. A marketplace must take steps to protect the enterprise, the end users, and any intermediary. How have Lime and other micro mobility companies managed the trust and safety of the end users and other partners in the micro mobility ecosystem?

As the largest micro mobility company in the world, we have an opportunity to significantly impact trust and safety issues and we have a team dedicated to this effort. We have the world’s largest rider experience dataset that we leverage in this endeavor. We have staked out a leadership position regarding safety and intend to continue doing so.

You spoke at the 2020 Marketplace Risk Global Summit about the roadmap to success when expanding across borders. Digital and sharing economy marketplaces have the innate ability to hop borders and expand as they see fit. A company’s risk profile changes immediately when leaving their home country; can you reflect on the lessons learned when expanding?

First, we don’t view ourselves as a US company leaving home, but rather an operator that empowers its local teams to operate with a deep understanding of each of the 130+ local markets in which we serve local constituents around the globe. We’re actually bigger outside the US. This local-first approach gives us a really granular view on what it takes to succeed and that drives our ability to quickly gain an understanding of our risk profile in each market. It also enables us to customize our insurance offerings to be appropriate for each new market we enter

Aon’s Digital Economy Practice, Lime, and Marketplace Risk all look forward to seeing everyone at the slate of conferences this fall with more expertise and content!

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