How to become an Uber driver and prepare for your first ride

How to become an Uber driver and prepare for your first ride

So, you’re thinking about driving for Uber? Great! Uber is a great way to supplement your income or have complete freedom and maximum earning potential.

There are a couple of options to choose from that could be an excellent fit for you, but before you sign up, there are a few things you should know.

As with any job, there are pros and cons to driving for Uber. Also, Uber may not be a good fit for everyone. It is best to research and ask questions so that you feel comfortable moving forward.

As a former Uber In-Person Driver Support Expert, I can tell you that people sign up and don't read anything or ask questions. They think it's just driving people around, or they think it's easy and effortless doing food delivery.

Uber is customer service. If you are not a people person, a good communicator, or great with customer service, Uber will not work for you.

I will walk you through becoming an Uber driver and maybe answer any questions or concerns you may have. 

What to know before applying to drive for Uber

First things first, you need to do your research.

When I was thinking about becoming a driver, I spent three whole days watching YouTube videos about Uber. I watched the good, bad, and the ugly so that I could make a well-rounded, educated decision if this is what I wanted to do.

My plan wasn't to supplement my income; I was jumping in headfirst and making it my primary source of income.

There are so many ways to research becoming a driver. You could check out some YouTube videos about particular questions or concerns you may have. There are many drivers with great tips that could help you.

If you live in a city that has an Uber Hub, you could go in and ask them questions as well. As a former Uber employee, I was an asset at the Hub I worked at because I was a driver for years first. I was able to address and discuss things that a regular employee couldn't. You may run into this problem at your local Hub.

If the employees have never been a driver, they may not have the knowledge that you get from actually being out there. Uber employees have specific things they can discuss and others they cannot.

They will tell you all of the technical things like mileage and distance pay, rules and regulations, promotions and incentives, and other general Uber information for your city. They won't go into details about things that arise while you are out driving because sometimes they do not know, or they are not trained or allowed to talk to you about those things.

I answered whatever question they had because I understood that Uber does not prepare you. You sign up, go through the background and driving record check, get a car inspection, and then hit the road. They don't walk you through anything if you do not ask them.

My former co-worker at the Hub never did the available assimilation. There is a driver assimilation that you can go through that gives you real examples of what to expect driving people or delivering food. I went through this with everyone that signed up, and I taught them how to use their app. When going to the Hub, ask if there are any learning tools available for new drivers. They should be able to help you.

Another way to get information is to ask active drivers. Take a few Uber trips as a passenger and ask the driver questions. I had numerous people ask me questions, and I answered every question honestly. An active driver is an excellent source of information, and they can tell you information that you won't get from the Hub.

However you choose to do your research, make sure you find the answers to the questions and concerns you have, it will help you become more comfortable when first starting. 

How the background check works when applying to drive for Uber

To become an Uber driver, you need to have a clean background and driving record. Depending on the charge, you may not be able to drive people.

Uber uses a background check company called Checkr. What you are trying to do for Uber determines what kind of background check they do. If you are driving people, they will do an extensive background check, including a sex offenders check. If you are only delivering food, there are some things you can have on your background because you won’t be driving people.

If you have any questions about what you can and can't have on your background, look it up online. From working at the Hub, I know that you can't have any domestic violence or sex offences on your background, no matter how long ago the charge was. Weapon charges and some drug charges will also cause you to fail. So if you have any of these on your record, you will not be able to drive people and may not be able to deliver food.

As far as your driving record, you cannot have any DWIs or OWIs on your record. You can't have any reckless driving, excessive tickets, or lengthy suspensions on your record. These will cause you not to be able to drive people; you may or may not pass for doing UberEats.

You may have made poor choices in your past, but I can tell you right now that Uber does not care. They will protect their money which means their customer at all costs. As a rider, you should appreciate the extent they go to check their drivers.

The process of signing up to Uber

If your background and driving record is clean and you've done your research, the next step is to sign up.

You will need to download the Uber driver app from either the Google Play Store or Apple store. Once you download that, you will need a valid phone number and email address to sign up. Choose to become a driver in the app and follow the instructions. The signup instructions are straightforward.

You will need your driver's license, vehicle registration, and vehicle insurance. The vehicle registration does not have to have your name on it, but the insurance does have to have you listed as a driver.

If you are not listed on the paper that stays in your car, you will need to obtain the declaration page of your insurance documents. If you are listed as an additional driver, your name will be listed here. If you have to use your declaration page, you will need to take a picture of the small document and the declaration sheet. Make sure you can read everything and see your name clearly.

Without both documents, your insurance will be denied if your name isn't listed on the small insurance paper that goes in your car. With all of your documents, make sure you take a clear picture of everything and make sure that everything is valid.

Do not try to upload fake documents. They check everything, and you will be flagged.

Once everything is uploaded and pending, you will be asked to consent to a background check. The background check prompt will only come up if you have successfully uploaded your documents. Consent as soon as possible because it takes 7-10 business days for your background check to come back. It doesn't, but that is what they tell you.

If you want to check on your background check status, you can go to the applicant portal, and you will see the progress. Checkr will send you a copy of your background report, and if you didn't pass, give you a reason why.

Vehicle inspection when applying to drive for Uber

You may need to get a vehicle inspection if you are driving people.

If your car is newer, you may not need to get a vehicle inspection, but if it’s five years or older, you will have to get an inspection done.

Depending on the area you live in, some places will do a free inspection for you. Uber has a partnership with Belle Tire, and they will do an inspection for free. These locations should have the inspection forms, but it's best to print out the official forms or grab one from a local Hub. It has to be an official form, or it will be rejected.

On the inspection sheet, they are checking the body, lights, windows, seatbelts, brakes, tires, and if your check engine light is on. You can look on the sheet to see the specifics.

If your check engine light is on, have low tire tread or tinted windows, you will not pass the inspection. These are things to think about before driving for Uber. Your car needs to be safe to drive people.

If you are only delivering food, you will not need to get an inspection, so you can still make money with Uber if your car won’t pass the inspection.

Your background can start running without a car inspection. You will need your other documents. If you just bought a car and do not have your plate yet, make sure you bring into the Hub completely filled out dealer paperwork. If you do not have a Hub in your area, you may have to wait until your plate comes in because there is a chance your registration will be rejected.

When everything comes back approved, you will automatically be cleared to drive. 

Being insured when driving for Uber

Once you are cleared to drive, there are some things that you will need and want to get before your first drive.

First thing, you need to check with your insurance and see if they have a rideshare endorsement you can add to your policy. This covers you when your app is turned on, but you are not on a ride yet. Uber insurance only covers you when you are currently on a ride or delivery. Since you are using your car commercially, you will need to get this endorsement. It is not expensive. I believe mine was like an extra $20 a month.

If your insurance does not have this, you will need to decide if you will drive Uber or get different insurance that has the endorsement. It is vital to have this. If your Uber driver app is on and you are waiting for a ride or delivery, and you get in an accident, your insurance will not accept the claim if they find out that you were using your car commercially.

Uber insurance only covers you actively on a ride or delivery. This is what Uber doesn't tell you; I learned this as a driver.

I watched people come into the Hub after an accident, saying that both Uber and their insurance denied their claim. They didn't understand how Uber insurance worked, and they weren't told about rideshare endorsements. So they had to come out of pocket to fix their vehicle.

Being prepared for your first ride as an Uber driver

If you are driving people, I would recommend getting a two-way dash cam for your vehicle. This gives you extra protection and proof if you need it. Make sure it is a dual dash cam that records inside and outside the car.

You would also want to get a mile tracking app to track your miles. You will need to account for your miles when it’s tax time. I have one called MileIQ, and it's like $5.99 a month. You can separate your business and personal miles, and at the end of the year, print out the summary and hand it to your tax professional.

Driving people, you will want to keep your car clean, so I suggest signing up for a local car wash membership. If you are doing UberEats, you will need to invest in an insulated bag. Uber has one on the website, but it is flimsy and doesn't say UberEats on it. I would buy a couple of good ones from a local store. Make sure you have a small one and a big one that can hold a pizza.

You will also need a phone mount in your car and a phone charger. As a driver, you will want your phone charging at all times.

If you live in an area that snows, I suggest swapping out your cloth mats for rubber ones. They will be easier to clean and protect your carpet. There are other tips and tricks to being a driver. I just gave you a couple to get you started. 

There are many things to take into consideration when deciding to become an Uber driver. Make sure you know what you are getting into, and make sure you do proper research to be comfortable with your decision.

Uber isn't just a gig. You are providing a service to the public and need to take this job seriously. Yes, you are an independent contractor, but you have to remember you are in business for yourself.

The service you provide will reflect in your ratings and your tips. The better service you provide, the more lucrative being an Uber driver will be.

Remember, it is not for everyone. Think long and hard about if this is right for you.

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