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The Company Insuring the Uninsurable in the Sharing Economy

When someone shares their car, their home or anything else, they’re entering into what’s called "the sharing economy." Doing so involves a certain amount of risk. What if someone wrecks your car or trashes your guesthouse? Most insurance companies won’t cover instances like that.

That’s where actuary Ashley Hunter saw her opportunity. The president of HM Risk Group sat down with Texas Standard’s David Brown to talk all the things her company insures. "We are a boutique insurance and reinsurance brokerage located here in Austin," she says, "and we provide insurance to high-risk businesses – the sharing economy being one of them."

That can include anything from drivers looking for a few extra bucks  – to women carrying surrogate pregnancies. 

Interview Highlights

On the need for surrogate insurance:

“We’ve created an insurance program that actually will insure surrogates. While we do have universal healthcare in this country, it excludes surrogacy. ... Unfortunately there’s no policy out there that will cover you if you are carrying someone else’s child for a fee.” 

The costs of not having surrogate insurance:

“They would have had to pay out of pocket, so you’re talking hundreds and thousands of dollars if you have a surrogate who’s bedridden for six months in a hospital. ... There would have been no insurance policy out there to actually even cover it.”

On taking risks:

"I like to gamble. I take calculated risk all day. That's what we do in insurance. I mean, we are calculated gamblers. But by all reasonable accounts, the women are extremely healthy. They've been screened by some of the top physicians in the country, and typically you don't see very many losses. So, it's a good risk."


Intern for Texas Standard
David entered radio journalism thanks to a love of storytelling, an obsession with news, and a desire to keep his hair long and play in rock bands. An inveterate political junkie with a passion for pop culture and the romance of radio, David has reported from bases in Washington, London, Los Angeles, and Boston for Monitor Radio and for NPR, and has anchored in-depth public radio documentaries from India, Brazil, and points across the United States and Europe. He is, perhaps, known most widely for his work as host of public radio's Marketplace. Fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving to Texas full-time in 2005, Brown joined the staff of KUT, launching the award-winning cultural journalism unit "Texas Music Matters."
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