Rideshare insurance in California

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Taking part in the gig economy by working as a driver or doing deliveries is a good way to earn money on your own schedule. Uber alone reports having 3.9 million drivers. One of the most common questions asked is, “Do I need special insurance for Uber or Lyft?” Rideshare car insurance in California is often necessary — your personal vehicle insurance policy likely does not provide coverage if you are working as a driver. Here is everything you need to know about the rideshare insurance California has.

How insurance works for rideshare drivers

Rideshare insurance is an add-on to your personal car insurance that only “activates” when you are on the app. For the rest of the time you use your vehicle, your personal coverage is in effect. There are four periods or phases:

  • Period 0: The app is off. Your personal vehicle insurance covers you for any claims.
  • Period 1: You are logged in to the app and waiting for a passenger match. Rideshare insurance is in effect, but it is limited to liability coverage during this phase.
  • Period 2: The rideshare app matches you with a passenger and you are on the way to pick them up. Your rideshare insurance is in full effect.
  • Period 3: The passenger is in the vehicle. Your rideshare insurance is in full effect.

California rideshare insurance requirements

The state of California requires all drivers to have minimum liability coverage of:

  • $15,000 for injury or death to one person per accident
  • $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person in an accident
  • $5,000 for damage to property per accident

You will have a minimum amount of coverage through the company you drive for. However, period one coverage is limited to liability coverage. The highest form of coverage starts in periods 2 and 3, although the deductible in case of a claim may be high.

Uber

Uber car insurance California coverage is sponsored by Progressive Insurance. The minimums are in the following categories.

Period 1
Liability coverage only with a deductible of $1,000.

Limits:

  • $50,000 bodily injury per person
  • $100,000 bodily injury per accident
  • $30,000 property damage per accident

Periods 2 and 3
Liability coverage and comprehensive/collision if you have full coverage on your personal vehicle policy. Comes with a deductible of $1,000.

Limits:

  • Liability: $1 million per incident
  • Comprehensive and collision: Same as your personal vehicle insurance

Lyft

Lyft car requirements and insurance minimums are the same as Uber’s except that coverage is underwritten by Allstate and the deductible is $2,500 instead of $1,000.

You may want to expand on the coverage provided by Uber or Lyft by adding rideshare coverage through your personal carrier. Each insurance company has its own limits. Check with your insurer to understand how a rideshare insurance California add-on will work.

Requirements for rideshare drivers in California

Uber driver requirements California and Lyft car requirements are similar. You will need:

  • A smartphone that can download and run the app
  • To be age 25 or older for Lyft or at least 23 for Uber
  • One year of driving experience
  • A valid California driver’s license. Active duty military personnel and family may drive with an out-of-state license.
  • A four-door vehicle that’s 2001 or newer for Lyft or newer than 15 years for Uber, with at least five seats, including the driver’s seat
  • The vehicle model can’t be listed as ineligible with Lyft or Uber
  • A California license plate
  • Proof of vehicle insurance
  • A passing vehicle inspection
  • To pass the driving history screening and criminal background check

California rideshare insurance companies

Not all car insurance carriers provide rideshare insurance in California. The following companies are worth considering:

  • Geico: This provider offers the cheapest vehicle coverage of all insurance companies in California on average.
  • USAA: Affordable rideshare insurance California coverage for military personnel and family.
  • Farmers: One of the most popular insurance carriers in California, Farmers has a wide network of dedicated agents ready to help if you need to file a rideshare-related claim.
  • State Farm: You can add rideshare coverage for your existing State Farm vehicle policy.

What to do if you have an accident driving for a rideshare in California

If you’re involved in an accident, it’s important to notify the rideshare company and call the police or emergency services to file a report. Document the incident by noting the time it occurred and taking photos of any damages. The rideshare app’s GPS will be able to find details based on when the accident happened, so the insurance company can determine in what period of coverage you were in.

If you believe another driver is responsible for the accident, make sure you collect:

  • Their name and contact number
  • A photo of their driver’s license
  • License plate number
  • A photo of their vehicle registration
  • Their insurance information, such as contact number and policy number

FAQ

Do you have to have extra insurance if you drive for a rideshare in California?

Your personal car insurance won’t cover you if you’re in an accident while working as a driver, so you may want additional insurance. You can add rideshare coverage for a small fee to your standard insurance policy to cover you while you are online as a driver.

What insurance will cover you if you get in an accident while driving for a rideshare?

Rideshare insurance works to supplement your personal car insurance to insure you while you’re logged in and online. This includes the time that you’re waiting on ride requests, on the way to pick a customer up or while you have customers in your vehicle. Lyft and Uber provide a minimum amount of insurance if you don’t have rideshare coverage through your insurer to fill the gap between your personal vehicle coverage and the periods when you’re on the app.

What providers offer rideshare insurance in California?

Not all carriers offer the option of adding rideshare insurance. State Farm, Geico, USAA, Farmers and Mercury are some of the top providers of rideshare coverage in California. Shop around by getting quotes to compare and find the best rates.

Written by
Cynthia Paez Bowman
Personal Finance Contributor
Cynthia Paez Bowman is a finance, real estate and international business journalist. Besides Bankrate.com, her work has been featured in Business Jet Traveler, MSN, CheatSheet.com, Freshome.com and SimpleDollar.com. She owns and operates a small digital marketing and public relations firm that works with select startups and women-owned businesses to provide growth and visibility. Cynthia splits her time between Los Angeles, CA and San Sebastian, Spain. She travels to Africa and the Middle East regularly to consult with women’s NGOs about small business development.