Ridesharing services like Uber make it easy to get a ride just about anywhere. But they also make it easy to earn side income (or full-time income) driving people around town.
On paper, working as an Uber driver sounds like a great gig, and it can be. However, it's important to understand a few things before you dive in and start driving.
1. You'll Probably Need Different Insurance Coverage
Uber does provide some auto insurance coverage, but only when the app is on. When the app is off, you're covered by your personal insurance policy. When the app is on, you will be covered by Uber's low-level liability insurance.
Once a trip is accepted, a higher level of coverage kicks in and stays active until the passenger exits your vehicle.
Uber's policy is designed to cover liability claims that your personal insurance won't cover. But these policies will not cover your vehicle. You'll have to rely on your own personal insurance policy for that.
The trouble with that is your personal auto insurer may decide not to cover the damage. Personal auto insurance policies usually will not cover you if you're driving for commercial purposes, which is really what Uber driving is considered.
You might consider buying supplemental commercial auto insurance, especially if you have plans to drive full-time.
2. Your Taxes Will be More Complicated
One thing many new drivers overlook when starting out with Uber is the tax implications. You're responsible for doing your own taxes. Uber does not withhold taxes – you're considered a contractor.
When tax season comes, you'll owe money (most likely). Here's the good news: You can write off certain expenses to lower your tax burden.
Some of the most common Uber tax deductions include:
- Cell phone expenses
- Vehicle inspections
- Parking and toll costs
- External GPS devices
- Rider amenities, such as water, chargers and other things you provide for riders
- Vehicle accessories
- Paid apps
- Health insurance
3. You May Earn Less than You Expected
Uber drivers often make less than advertised, and how much you earn will depend on where you are driving.
A 2015 survey of Uber drivers in 20 cities found that most earned an average of $19 an hour. But a survey from Buzzfeed found that drivers in Detroit, Denver and Houston only earned about $13.25, on average, after expenses. Drivers in Detroit only earned about $8.77 an hour.
Few drivers make more than $11 an hour.
The bottom line: You won't get rich driving for Uber. But if you need some extra cash on the side, driving for Uber is a quick way to meet your goals.
4. Reviews Can Make or Break You
Uber drivers rely on reviews from passengers. Drivers who rack up too many bad reviews can be terminated.
Expect to go out of your way to make your passengers happy. It's been reported that drivers are expected to maintain a rating of 4.6 or higher or risk being deactivated.
With that in mind, you'll need to behave professionally if passengers are unruly or angry. If you can't behave calmly in these types of situations, driving for Uber may not be a good fit for you.