Ride-share services like Lyft and Uber are more popular than ever. They make getting around easy for people who don't have a car. If you're a licensed California driver looking to make good money on the side, this could be it.
Before picking up your first passengers, here's what you need to know about being a ride-share driver in California.
Ride-Sharing Requirements for California Drivers
To become a California ride-share driver, you need to:
Be at least 21 years old
Lyft is an exception, as it requires drivers to be at least 25
Have a valid California driver's license
Pass a criminal background check
Pass a driving background check
Of course, there are a few exceptions to these rules. For example, Lyft allows active-duty military personnel to drive with an out-of-state license. And Uber requires drivers under 25 to have 3 years of driving experience or 1 year of driving experience for drivers over 25.
You may need to get a business license if you ride-share for more than 30 days. Check with your local city office to see if you need to apply for one.
For more information, read through the driver requirements page on each service's website as you decide which one to join.
There Are Vehicle Requirements, Too
Lyft and Uber don't allow all vehicles to be used for ride-sharing. Generally speaking, they must:
Be from 2009 or newer
Vehicles from 2007 and 2008 are allowed in select cities
Have four doors and a minimum of five seatbelts
Have updated California license plates
Pass an inspection by a licensed California mechanic every 12 months or 50,000 miles, whichever happens first
Insurance Basics in California
Every driver in California has to have personal auto insurance. It must meet the minimum insurance requirements set by the state:
$15,000 of bodily injury coverage, per person
$30,000 of bodily injury coverage total
$5,000 of property damage coverage
Ride-share drivers are no exception. This kind of insurance protects them and their vehicle while not on the job. Your name must be on the policy, or else the ride-share service might not let you sign up.
While waiting for a ride request
Up to $50,000 of bodily injury coverage, per person
Up to $100,000 of bodily injury coverage total
Up to $25,000 of property damage coverage
On the way to pick up drivers and with passengers in the car
Up to $1,000,000 third-party liability
Keep in mind your personal auto insurance won't cover any accidents that happen while you're logged into the app or with a passenger. If you want to shop around for the best car insurance in California, consider a ride-share insurance add-on to keep you covered at all times.
What About California Driving School?
California does not require ride-share drivers to take driver improvement classes. Still, you have a lot to gain from enrolling in a program. Driver's ed courses and traffic school give you a refresher on your state's driving laws and updated city regulations. It's particularly useful if you're new to the area. Plus, since you can take classes online and learn at your own pace, you have nothing to lose — and you may even get an auto insurance discount!