Do California Ride-Share Drivers Need Driving School and Insurance?

rideshare drivers

Ride-share services like Uber and Lyft have made it easier than ever to get around without a car — so much so that the number of high school seniors with a driver's license is at a record low. But for enterprising teens that do learn to drive, is there an opportunity to put their skills to use to earn money as a ride-share driver? It’s an attractive proposition since they can make their own schedules around schoolwork and other activities.

Before you let your newly licensed teen or young adult put that Uber sticker on the family car, there are several rules to know. 

California Ride-share Driving Basics

To become a ride-share driver in California, you must:

  • Be at least 21 years old.

  • Have a valid California driver’s license.

  • Pass a background check of your driving and criminal record.

  • Have a four-door car with CA plates from 2005 or newer (in certain cities, it can be as old as 2003).

Parents, take note: Teens will have to wait until they’re 21 to legally drive for Uber or Lyft in California. Uber also requires drivers to have had their license for one year before accepting passengers in general, and for three years if they are under age 23. If your child shows an interest in becoming a ride-share driver, it’s a good idea to sign up for a California driver's ed course early so they have plenty of time to build that required experience. 

Ride-share Insurance Requirements

Having appropriate insurance coverage is crucial for ride-share drivers who could be held responsible for an injured passenger in case of an accident. According to John Espenschied, owner of Insurance Brokers Group, California has minimum coverage requirements for ride-share drivers:

  • Bodily Injury: $50,000 per person and $100,000 for all parties.

  • Property Damage: $30,000.

Espenschied notes that you should always let your insurance broker know if you plan to drive for Uber or Lyft. "Make sure to inform your insurance agent or broker, as there may be a special endorsement needed on your current policy," he advises. "Some carriers have not approved a ride-sharing service, which means you may need to shop for insurance with other carriers."

Proof of insurance is required when signing up to drive, and the driver must be named on the policy. If you’re carrying your teen on the family policy, you may need to have their name added to an insurance card to streamline the paperwork.

What About California Driving School?

The Golden State does not require California driving school for ride-share drivers. Still, ride-share expert and blogger Harry Campbell recommends learning all you can to be prepared for the work. "It's never a bad thing to practice defensive driving and get a refresher on any new laws or regulations in your city and state — particularly if your insurance company gives you a discount for doing so!" 

Campbell writes for The Rideshare Guy, a popular resource for Uber and Lyft drivers looking to keep up on the latest information in the industry. He also points out that the two most important skills for ride-share drivers are navigation and communication, and that these come with experience.