Since Uber first began offering its services to New Yorkers in 2012, ridesharing has exploded into a billion-dollar industry. These days, it’s not unusual to have four or five different ridesharing apps available in any given area. While this is a good thing when you need a ride at rush hour, it can be a great thing when you own a car and need to make a little money on the side.
With so many transportation network companies (TNCs) to choose from, there’s never been a better time to put your wheels to work for you. But how do you actually go about doing it? Here’s a crash course to help you get started in the rideshare business, with input from drivers, bloggers and a spokesperson from one of the leading rideshare companies—on everything from earning potential to insurance coverage.
How much will you make?
It’s the big question on every prospective driver’s mind. While ads for some companies claim that you could make as much as $50 an hour, blogger Harry Campbell of TheRideshareGuy.com insists that it’s closer to $10 or $20, depending on location and rider demand. The good news, according to Campbell, is that you can cherry-pick when you want to drive—which enables you to choose optimal earning hours. Depending on the company you’re driving for, you may be able to charge several times the standard rate during surge periods, when passenger demand exceeds the number of rideshare cars on the road. The time slots Campbell recommends are 4 to 6 a.m., when a lot of people are going to the airport and nobody else is on the road, and Friday and Saturday nights, when young people tend to be out and about.
And then there are the bonuses. New drivers for Lyft can receive as much as $1,000 in certain markets just for signing up with a referral code, while on-demand delivery platforms like DoorDash and PostMates may offer new drivers as much as $100 in bonuses. In a recent effort to lure drivers away from the competition, some companies have even been offering $1,000 bonuses for referring high-earning “power drivers” from other ridesharing platforms.
No car? No problem
Most people assume that all you need to become a rideshare driver is a smartphone and a car. In actuality, you don’t need either. In addition to renting smartphones for $10 a week, one company also offers week-to-week leases for drivers who don’t own cars through a special leasing program. All it takes to get started is a clean driving record and a $250 security deposit. Lyft recently rolled out its Express Drive program in partnership with GM, which offers all-inclusive weekly car rental packages for Lyft drivers. Weekly rental fees will be waived for active Lyft drivers who meet a minimum weekly ride count. So the more you drive, the less you pay.
Are there perks?
Quite a few, actually.
Lyft spokesperson Alexandra LaManna describes a package of perks for Lyft drivers: “We provide affordable car rental rates, gas cards and instant payouts,” explains LaManna, “as well as access to financial services and free tools for filing taxes and evaluating health-care options.” Another perk is in-app tipping. According to LaManna, Lyft had distributed more than $100 million in tips to its drivers as of June 2016. Some other companies offer drivers deep discounts on everything from family phone plans to vehicle maintenance
and gas. Some also provide health insurance and, in certain cities, reimbursements for gym memberships.
What about insurance?
Everyone on the road is required by law to have an active auto insurance policy—and no TNC will consider hiring you without one. Lyft and its competitors offer insurance for their drivers as long as they’re logged into the company’s app. However, the degree to which you are covered depends on whether you’re waiting for a ride request, en route to a pickup or have passengers in your car. Needless to say, this kind of coverage can be confusing and, in some cases, insufficient.
While a personal auto policy won’t cover you when you are using your vehicle for a ridesharing company or on-demand delivery service, a high-priced commercial policy can seem like overkill—especially for the occasional on-demand driver. That’s why GEICO created a commercial rideshare policy specifically for on-demand drivers. GEICO’s Rideshare Insurance is a hybrid policy designed to cover drivers, passengers and goods during all stages of a given job: before, during and after a pickup. Ridesharing Insurance replaces a personal auto policy entirely, and protects drivers and their passengers whether the app is on or off. It’s also fully transparent, hassle-free and easy to understand.
Hit the road, Jack
With the right expectations—and the right insurance—driving part-time for a rideshare company or on-demand delivery service can be an easy and enjoyable way to supplement the income from your full-time job. Many drivers can work whenever they want, as often as they like. And with easy, all-in-one protection from GEICO Ridesharing Insurance, you’ll never have to wonder if you’re covered.
Prepare for your first pickup and get a quote for Rideshare Insurance.
By Kenyon Phillips