By on January 31, 2018

True story: when my pal “Creighton” decided to start using his Charger Hellcat for Uber, he called his insurance company and had them upgrade his policy to commercial status. Doing so pretty much wiped out any profit that he was going to make as an Uber driver, but he still made the call because he’s the kind of person who doesn’t like to take unnecessary risks.

Getting rideshare-specific insurance isn’t always prohibitive, but during my conversations with various Uber and Lyft drivers I’ve yet to hear of anybody besides Creighton actually ponying-up for real additional coverage. Most of these people are living pretty close to the bone and they don’t really think they have that much to lose in the first place. Plus, there’s the fact that both Uber and Lyft offer some additional coverage as part of their driver agreement.

That’s the theory of it, anyway. What happens when two Lyft drivers collide? Yesterday, someone found out.


This post appeared on Tuesday afternoon on the Reddit “personal finance” group:

last Saturday night, my partner had passengers in her car when she got in a minor collision with another (ironically) Lyft driver who was between rides. My partners car had substantial damage, and was undrivable. Since the accident happened at an intersection where a local rapid commute light rail track ran through, local transit authorities called a tow company on their own accord, which promptly came and stole her vehicle to be taken to a tow yard while we were on the phone with our insurance making arrangements for our own tow truck that insurance would cover. The officer on scene deemed no driver was at fault, and did not make a report. Now 3 days have passed, and the car is still in the tow yard, racking up storage fees. Our insurance doesn’t want to touch the case since it was a Lyft incident, and won’t even cover a rental car while we get everything sorted out. Today, finally, someone got in touch with us from Lyft saying they will not cover any towing or storage fees ($300), and they have a $2,500 deductable. We are both college students, and while financially responsible, cannot afford that kind of money for repairs. Does anyone have any advice to offer for what to do next? We feel as though we have exhausted all options, filing claims with both sides, but getting shut down either way we go. Any advice is appreciated.

EDIT – Thank you all for your contributions to the post. Even just having someone else pitch their opinion on the case is reassuring for us. Ultimately it all boils down to us taking a financial hit, but this is a huge lesson to everyone who drives for a ride share company to check insurance coverage. I will be spreading awareness of this on social media so others don’t get caught in the trap.

You can read the original post, and hundreds of responses, here. I took a brief look at the original poster’s personal history to see whether he meant “business partner” when he said “partner.” From what I can tell he really means either “girlfriend” or “wife,” but he wrote partner for the same reason that some Americans have lately fallen in love with writing and saying “shite.”

He’s also a pretty talented snowboarder who seems to go snowboarding a lot at some non-cheap places but can’t come up with the $2,500 deductible. I can sympathize. There were a lot of times in my life where I was riding around on a $900 BMX bike with ten bucks in my pocket.

Spiros Vathis/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)]

The general consensus is that the “partner” is about to get dropped by Liberty Mutual in a manner that will make it extremely expensive for her to get insurance next time. Another bit of general consensus: she’s lucky the passengers weren’t injured. Many courts don’t have much concept of a limit when it comes to the amount they will award to injured passengers in your car crash; add in the slight whiff of commercial enterprise and things are likely to get much, much worse.

I cannot help but mention that this incident neatly encapsulates many of my personal difficulties with the “gig economy” in general and Uber/AirBNB/Turo-style services in particular: the corporations get their money regardless and virtually all of the risk is passed along to someone whose personal history and choices usually serve as stark demonstration of their inability to adequately judge risk and reward.

Furthermore, if you’re a college student, you shouldn’t be horking around Salt Lake or wherever driving for Lyft. You should either be working a real job or studying so you can get out of school faster. What’s happening here is that student loan and/or parental contribution money is being used behind the scenes to subsidize the vehicle that is being used for Lyft. When the car wears out or needs major repairs, these students will have the same hands-up-don’t-shoot attitude that they are displaying about this crash. If you’re not able to come up with $2,500 to fix a car from a crash or a mechanical issue caused by turning it into a low-rent taxi, you shouldn’t be driving for Lyft… and if you do have the money, what are you wasting your time for?

From my perspective, there are only two acceptable reasons to be a rideshare driver. The first is to frighten people with your Hellcat. The second is to insert yourself into fascinating situations. But what do I know? I’ve wasted enough money on cars to fix these kids’ problem two hundred times over.

[Image: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0); Spiros Vathis/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)]

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73 Comments on “What Happens When Two Lyft Drivers Collide?...”


  • avatar
    mmreeses

    shaking my head. of course i’ll be able to pay my 8 year, $35,000 car note. I’ll Uber on the side!

    the majority of people can’t explain deprecation or don’t appreciate tail risk.

    and that’s how uber-lyft get away with finding an army of underpaid, underinsured jitney drivers.

    • 0 avatar
      USAFMech

      I award you all my internet points for today for your wonderful use of “jitney”.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Agreed, fine use of “jitney”.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I toyed with doing this at one time. I figured…
      a) I love to drive.
      b) I don’t particularly need a second job, but some extra cash would be nice.
      c) So why not?

      It seemed to make sense. Then again, so did marrying my first wife, and it cost my kids’ mental well being, two miserable years, and a hundred large in alimony to fix that error.

      Nope.

      I have no idea how the people who do this for a primary job make a living at it. I figure you’d have to have a late model car that’s paid up to make any money at this.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Uber specifically reached out to me via mail when I had the black 2014 Lincoln MKS, because it was eligible for their exclusive UberBLACK service (hold the black people jokes…lol). I figured that I spend enough time driving and putting miles on my cars because of my long commute, and declined to participate. It just doesn’t sound like fun.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I think the only context in which it makes sense is if you already have a car you’re already driving for your own purposes, and particularly if you’re already driving somewhere and just have a bit of extra time and you turn the app on. To BUY a car for the purpose of lyft driving is just insane IMO, and I actually know someone who did just that (a time bomb CVT-equipped high mileage Altima with just about every body panel resprayed of all things).

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Please tell me the guy actually paid cash for the Altima. If he did that, and he’s not depending on the gig income, then maybe it’s not the worst move of all time. Drive it until it blows up and go from there. But if he financed that thing, Lord help him.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            It was bought for cash, still a horribly stupid move IMO. I was helping him craigslist shop and we just missed out on an “honest” 150k mile 7th gen Accord, as well as dodged some real sketchy options (horribly rebuilt Camry, 264k mile Accord rolled back to 100k). I told him to be patient, but the sketchy middle eastern fellow selling the Altima apparently talked him into it by coming down a lot on his asking price (I wasn’t around to stop this from going down). You live, you learn. If that CVT lets go that Altima is scrap.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Well, perhaps he got one with the Unobtainium CVT. If he got the Altima cheap enough, maybe it’ll work out for him. You never know.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            High mileage abused CVT Altima. Bought from a sketchy seller eager to drop the price. To be used in a severe duty application with low income potential.

            Dear. God.

            I want updates on that situation.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Well my sister in law broke up with said fellow (for the better, for many reasons) so unfortunately no updates. But buying a wrecked/repaired 180k mile Altima for Lyft use against the very strong recommendation of a fairly knowledgeable ‘car-guy’ kind of summed things up nicely in my mind. For what its worth last I saw it around Thanksgiving it was still running well (bought early spring).

          • 0 avatar

            I saw dis and it has your name on it, even though it’s a newer one and not the OG ES300.

            https://louisville.craigslist.org/cto/d/2001-lexus-esmiles/6464269047.html

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I see your somewhat decontented ES and raise you a “fat” one!

            indianapolis.craigslist.org/cto/d/lexus-es300/6449137941.html

            I’m seriously tempted by that one, I’ve seen it around my neck of the woods and it is immaculate, driven by a well-to-do older guy.

          • 0 avatar

            Nice! Good area it’s in, and the vintage car and expensive freezer in the garage are good signs.

            $2150 is like it’s almost free.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Yep. All signs point to it being a real gem of an older Lexus. Man I really would love to, but I’m committed to getting another truck this spring.

          • 0 avatar

            I certainly don’t need three rides again, but entertained for a few moments the idea of passing on the AWD Infiniti I don’t need for a pristine and of course RWD LS430.

            https://dayton.craigslist.org/cto/d/2004-lexus-ls430-luxury-sedan/6469861090.html

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Wow that LS430 is steep… but those are some low miles! I’d factor in a t-belt change though, “flying colors” or not on the dealer inspection. 3UZ-FE is an interference motor, and as well as Toyota belts generally hold up way past the recommended interval (mileage and age wise), it’s hardly worth the risk.

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah I was thinking he’d have to come down $2K or so.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Gtem, the Church commandith ye acquire thy great LS430.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            No LS-s for me man, too many pricey LS-exclusive parts. That clean ES300 is more my scene, although even with my ’96 I found there were certain things where the Camry part would not work, and it really jacked up the price. I wanted to put new pre-loaded strut assemblies on mine, front and rear. Rears no problem, same part as the Camry, Monroe makes a QuickStrut for that. Fronts? Gotta pay the piper, would have had to buy everything piecemeal (strut mounts, struts, spring isolaters). Now that’s hardly a horror story, but it sure complicates things for me as a shade-tree guy. I can swap in the preloaded ones no sweat, I don’t like to deal with spring compressors. Anyways with the t-belt I had already invested in it, my $1600 ES was staring down $750 just in parts for a strut refresh, plus it needed new all seasons (another $400 or so). I ended up selling it for $2200.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            You don’t want to know what I paid for the parts alone to do the (very premature) complete front suspension refresh on my LS460. Lexus parts are just as available as Toyota parts, but waaaaaay more expensive.

            PS: That LS430 owner is dreaming unless his car suddenly sprouts a UL package; then he might be in range.

          • 0 avatar

            Haha, yes that green LS is overpriced, which is why it’s so clean and still sitting there listed.

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      Jitney – brought back memories of the jitney service in Vallejo, Ca., from some 40-years ago. They used a red, 1955 Chevrolet sedan with 8 (count ’em, eight) doors to ferry folks around the county.

      • 0 avatar
        tonyola

        We still have “jitneys” here in Miami. They’re officially called Miami Mini Buses but most people call them jitneys. The buses are modified vans that run from 163rd Street Mall to downtown Miami (about 13 miles), and are particularly popular with the local Haitian population. Condition of the vans range from pretty good to frightening and the same can be said for the drivers, but I guess you can’t ask too much for $1.50 for any trip and I ride them periodically without incident. Working air conditioning is a rare bonus.
        http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2634/3920886317_3262212300.jpg

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “Many courts don’t have much concept of a limit when it comes to the amount they will award to injured passengers in your car crash; add in the slight whiff of commercial enterprise and things are likely to get much, much worse.”

    My girlfriend’s son works for a hospital. A few weeks ago, he was driving their van on an errand when he was involved in a very minor rear-ender. Apparently the woman he hit took one look at the van, saw the hospital’s markings on the side, and all the sudden her kid developed life threatening injuries.

    I have a feeling this isn’t going to turn out very well for the kid.

    And agreed on Lyft/Uber. If you’re going to pick up a part-time gig, bite the bullet and work retail or something like that.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Jack, you’re our “partner” in entertaining but factual prose.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Yeah, people should definitely learn to research their insurance. I mean, you can’t be covered to multi-million dollar limits for everything that could happen under the sun…but make sure there are no gaping holes that will leave you exposed to liabilities or with an unaffordable financial burden to replace property. And I feel that the dubiousness of Uber / Lyft’s insurance coverage is well-publicized enough that anyone would be foolish not to evaluate their own situation thoroughly before signing on.

    Uber and Lyft both could certainly do more to publicize the wide chasm that their and most personal insurance leaves, and advocate that people buy commercial insurance, but it doesn’t behoove them to do so. And, much as with your buddy, it probably kills the financial proposition for a lot of people. So it pays to be researched, because no one cares about you as much as you.

    Me? I’m very cautious with my coverage. Specifically, a situation came up in which I needed to help a family member move over Christmas on short notice by renting a box truck with a car trailer. I was going to pay for it, but to find out which one of us would have it in our name and actually drive the thing—and whether or not I needed to buy the rental company’s supplemental coverage—we called our separate insurances. I specifically asked if they would provide collision and comprehensive coverage on a box truck with a trailer and a sedan of MAKE / MODEL / YEAR on top of said trailer.

    My GEICO said they’d cover it fully under my normal limits and deductibles, as long as the GVWR was under 15K lbs…and I made the representative send that to me in writing, via email. The family member’s USAA would only cover liability. I thought that was odd, since Armed Forces members using USAA often have to move with box trucks.

    Also, just recently, I had to buy errors & omissions insurance for my business dealings, which I combed through with a fine-toothed comb to make sure no unpleasant situations would arise.

  • avatar
    mmreeses

    While Uber-Lyft does offer their own $1,000,000 policy for passengers, $1,000,000 isn’t a lot these days. And that’s before dealing with the fine print.

    Just price out long-term health care or the loss of a lifetime of wages if you’re younger and have a growing family.

    If in the very small chance that something very bad does happen to you as a passenger in a Uber-Lyft, hope that UbeLyft’s lawyers offer to trade a big supplemental settlement for a non-disclosure agreement.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      When I trained for my (three-day) Lyft career, they warned us that Lyft’s insurance coverage does not apply when you are in between paid rides. Meanwhile, as a Geico customer, when I had a mishap on a non-lyft-related drive, the first question they asked me was if I was driving for pay. Proper coverage for ridesharing would have cost at least twice my Geico policy and eaten up days of revenue.

      I averaged about $15 an hour, minus expenses. But I was working the middle of the day. The only person I know who’s stuck with this drives nights, including the bar closing hour. And she drives for both Lyft and Uber, so she has double the chance of getting a call. It’s a hard gig that works as long as it works, but if you lose your license or your car or your ability to drive, it all comes crashing to a halt.

  • avatar
    BatmanBrandon

    My company insures Uber and Lyft, along with Grubhub and random delivery sites. It’s amazing how many people don’t pony up the extra $50 or so a month to get a commercial policy that covers ridesharing. That said, our commercial claims team hasn’t figured out yet a way to be efficient when we suddenly have had triple digit growth due to all the people switching their policies. Currently if we have suspicion of ridesharing, we send a note to underwriting and the customer is informed they need a commercial policy or we drop them.

    As a side note I just did an estimate on a 2016 Chevy Trax which had over 80k miles on the odometer. Had Uber and Lyft stickers all over it. In no way is what they make from that worth putting that many miles on a car in 18 months since they bought it off demo.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Just out of curiosity, how do you get suspicion of ride-sharing? Public profiles? High mileage accrual in a short amount of time?

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        My thoughts exactly, Kyree. I’d have to think it’s the mileage accrual.

      • 0 avatar
        BatmanBrandon

        Im an adjuster who does physical damage inspection. High mileage in short period, like the example above are one, but it’s mostly the advertising stickers. I take a photo of the Uber or Lyft sticker and notify our underwriters that there is possible commercial use, they handle it from there.

        Unfortunately commercial use is pretty well laid out in the policy as not being covered. If you’re making money while you’re driving and it’s a personal auto policy, we have no legal obligation to cover any claims from when you’re operating. I had quite a few claims he denied when I lived in Chicago, our investigators would contact Uber/Lyft/etc and get record of when they were operating. Basically once you logged in to the app, your insurance stopped covering you.

        I try to point it out to everyone that I’m not looking to deny a claim (I can’t, only people in liability can) but I want them to be informed so they aren’t hosed if (when) a claim happens.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I see. That makes sense. Those sound like people who just don’t realize that their personal coverage doesn’t extend to Uber / Lyft. Because if they *did* know, they would surely remove the stickers before the car was inspected.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    OK, here’s a question from a guy who’s never used Uber or Lyft: if you’re riding in one of these, and you get injured in a crash, does the corporation cover you, or is it all on the driver?

    Please tell me it’s not the latter.

    • 0 avatar
      mmreeses

      Uber-Lyft covers $1,000,000 “per accident.” not “per person.” hope that you’re never in an accident that involves serious hospitalization, death or rehabilitation or if so that their lawyers are feeling generous with a settlement.

      https://www.uber.com/newsroom/certificates-of-insurance-u-s-ridesharing/
      https://www.uber.com/newsroom/insurance-ridesharing-uber/

  • avatar
    pinkslip

    All you folks with “big boy” jobs seem to have a narrow perspective on the benefits of driving for a ride share service. It is much easier said than done to “just work retail” versus driving for a ride share. Ride share driving provides- above all else- flexibility in one’s schedule; you can work whenever you have time, rather than have to clock in/out. This is especially great for full-time students, but also works as a nice stop-gap when between “real” jobs.

    Also, people who drive full time (whatever hours that ends up being for them) can make better money than working retail. This, as the article points out, assumes they are not paying for proper insurance coverage, however.

    And most people don’t go out of their way to buy a car they wouldn’t otherwise own, for the sake of having a ride share vehicle; they typically already had or planned to buy an eligible car. The full timers are the people with the crappier cars (older Prius)- these people are the most likely to have bought a car specifically with ride share use in mind, but they still didn’t buy an additional car. The part-timers seem to have the nicer/newer cars- the one they use to commute to their “real”/full-time job.

    While I greatly appreciate the significant improvements to taxi services these “ride share” (BS name, but that’s another rant) companies have afforded me (traditional taxi companies still haven’t jumped on the app train, and those who have suck at it and are not on a large platform), I am by no means a ride share apologist. I just think a lot of these comments are from out-of-touch old men who have never even used said services. It’s like grandpa telling millennials they should be able to bootstrap their way through college working 16 hrs a week at the local movie-house just like how Granddad paid his way through a private university 48 years ago- things are different.

    That said, most of these ride share drivers are taking huge risks being way under-insured/uninsured. Many of them know it, but either think they’re better than average drivers (everyone seems to think so) so if they are in a wreck it won’t be their fault.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      College campuses are hotbeds of student employment opportunities. Don’t you qualify for financial aid, and work-study? Then look for a restaurant job. Every campus I’ve ever seen has students working at every establishment within a few miles. Leave ride-share to the deadenders to couldn’t matriculate.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Every campus I’ve ever seen has students working at every establishment within a few miles.

        Oh has a gentleman’s club nearby.

        I was fortunate to get work study and work with some “real Americans” (as certain politicians would say) in the college maintenance department. Valuable lessons learned.

        I feel badly for those stuck working Uber/Lyft but obviously not badly enough to stop using them.

      • 0 avatar
        pinkslip

        I’m well past my college years; I wasn’t speaking in terms of my own college experience.

        Yes, there are job opportunities for college students around college campuses, but that skirts my points. Students value flexibility in their schedules, so they have time to study, write papers, pose nude in art class, etc. Driving when you have/make time is more convenient to those people than having to commit to certain hours. And, as I mentioned, many drivers are temporary, while looking for other work (laid off, contract ended, home for the summer, etc).

        And driving for Uber/Lyft can potentially earn more than working at Denny’s, depending on the market. This is besides the fact that driving is exponentially less shitty to many people than working at a diner.

      • 0 avatar
        PandaBear

        “College campuses are hotbeds of student employment opportunities. Don’t you qualify for financial aid, and work-study? Then look for a restaurant job. Every campus I’ve ever seen has students working at every establishment within a few miles.”

        Things are different these days, grandpa. You are better off taking more classes and finish your degree faster than wasting your time working minimum wage jobs while in school, unless it is an internship that pays and will hire you when you graduate.

        Oh, and don’t do a useless degree either.

      • 0 avatar
        arach

        I’m flabbergasted by how many people on here are saying students shouldn’t Lyft..

        IT is the PERFECT college job. don’t work during exam weeks, get full hours (its hard for a student to get more than 20 hours mind you because of the benefit laws at least around here), and the pay can be decent.

        I have a friend that drives for Uber and he raves about it. The funny thing is he has like a 60/70k a year job and still ubers for extra spending cash. Says he makes a good amount and he primarily works after his kids are already asleep.

        he drives a lincoln too and talks about how he does pretty well. He says he makes about $500-800/month cash and racks up about $400-500 in tax deductions which cover the depreciation and wear and tear. After adjusting for tax rates and vehicle wear and tear plus increased insurance, it does seem like a legitimate $350-550/mo which if that “is worth it to you”, more power to you. You realize if you can pocket 500/mo spare starting in your 30s that could be a million bucks at retirement? Lets make fun of all the potential millionaires.

        Seems semi legit. The only legitimate argument seems to be “you can make more money elsewhere” but thats a case by case basis. If you CAN’T handle a second or third job, or have whacky hour constraints…it could be a dream job.

        I used to be a web developer on the side and one thing I loved about it is I could work at midnight to 4 am, when there were no obligations. Not a ton of jobs you can do that with. Even bouncers often have to be at work by 8.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I have practical experience in that I actually signed up as a Lyft driver back when I had my 2012 Civic. I wasn’t looking to make a lot of money from it, mostly just got a kick out of living out a secret desire to try being a cabbie. I refused to work the late night crowd for fear of someone yacking in my car, which basically automatically cut out the most lucrative and busy times to drive. I also lived in an area outside of the busy urban scene so I’d have to make an effort to drive down to where passengers might be. My overall impression is that a few years ago things were better, with a tighter driver supply. Since then, Uber and Lyft have gotten into a price war, and recruited drivers like crazy. Certainly passengers are on the winning end of this, I regularly use Lyft when I travel or occasionally when I’m downtown. But for drivers, thing are probably as grim as they’ve ever been.

      Oddly enough, all of this makes me want to do a bit of driving again. The one thing that I think is silly is the car age requirement. Iv’e ridden in a few piece of crap newer cars that obviously needed work. People that know a bit about me on here know that I like older cars, and that I’m absolutely pedantic about maintaining them and keeping them well looked after. What would you rather ride in, a 2006 Kia Spectra with blown shocks or a clean mid 90s ES300 like the one Corey and I were looking at above?

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t help thinking that wear and tear on the car–as well as commercial insurance–would devour a lot of the earnings from being a “rideshare” driver.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Welcome to the gig economy, wherein the corporation makes the profit and the prole worker takes all risk.
    The suggestion above to find a good retail job is an interesting fantasy, since retail jobs are disappearing faster than any other area of the job market. I don’t think that subsidizing a corporation’s liability or accelerating the depreciation of your vehicle are a good trade off for a mediocre increase in your monthly cash flow.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      @gasser:

      Just because the retail sector is shrinking doesn’t mean there aren’t jobs to be found – around here, there’s no shortage of them. That’s because retail sucks, so there’s a lot of turnover.

      And if you just need a few hundred bucks a month on the side, I’d say a retail gig makes a LOT more sense than Uber. A guy above says he was clearing around $15 an hour doing Uber. Most retail jobs around here pay a couple of bucks an hour less than that, but then again, you’re not driving your car into the ground, or running the risk of some moron puking all over you, and running up a higher insurance bill.

      I’d rather do a few hours at Target or whatever a week than Uber.

      • 0 avatar
        JustPassinThru

        It all depends on the situation.

        I’ve worked retail minimum-wage jobs; and I’ve driven cabs, too.

        Retail, of course, like any job…you’re expected to be there when scheduled. And stay your full shift, however long. AND generally expected to volunteer to cover when someone else doesn’t show up; or during surprise rushes.

        Cab driving…back in the day, thirty years ago…you leased your cab. If you wanted to knock off early, you could – but the first two-thirds of your haul was for the lease. So you’d work half a day, but for no pay.

        Uber, in terms of flexibility, makes sense.

        And right now, I’m in limbo with regards Railroad Retirement – I almost got it…but if I take a job for wages, outside of the railroad industry, I cut “current connections” and forfeit it.

        Self-employment is allowed. Uber, still, is considered self-employment.

        So it’s on. I don’t need much money, in this stopgap setup. Just enough to cover the rent, at least partly.

      • 0 avatar

        Speaking from my own experience there are quite a few retail jobs for the very reason Mike notes – high turnover. Retail sucks (for me), but I currently work part time retail to make ends meet. (Hopefully that will change about mid-year.) The “work when convenient for you” tack has a lot going for it. You CAN pull that off in retail if you’re smart about your declared availability which some employers use to schedule against. Don’t want to work a week day night, indicate you’re unavailable when you sign up. Admittedly, not all employers do this nor follow your availability. It’s a balance for sure. What will work for one does not necessarily work for another.

        My part time is at Wally World in small town America (16K pop.). I’m always surprised when talking with co-workers when they say they dislike working YOU PICK THE DAY. I always ask them what they put down for availability. Inevitably they had indicated they are available seven days a week. Their angle is it makes them more likely to get the job they feel (know) they need. Well dang! That’s why you’re working at a time you’d rather not for whatever personal reason. I always encourage them to “adjust” their availability. Sometimes it’s possible; other times not. Just need to be more long term focused if possible in one’s particular situation.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Welcome to the gig economy, wherein the corporation makes the profit and the prole worker takes all risk.
    The suggestion above to find a good retail job is an interesting fantasy, since retail jobs are disappearing faster than any other area of the job market. I don’t think that subsidizing a corporation’s liability or accelerating the depreciation of your vehicle are a good trade off for a mediocre increase in your monthly cash flow.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Ugh. Rethinking life choices.

    Lyft and Uber both have a destination mode. Basically you can put into their interface I’m at Point A, I’m driving to Point B, and if someone along my route (roughly) needs a ride. I’ll pick them up.

    I have been doing this to mitigate my soul-crushing Seattle commute. On days when traffic is bad, and I’m awake enough that I wouldn’t want to kill another human being in my car, I turn on this mode. About my only use of Uber/Lyft.

    If I hit the lottery I get to pick someone up, get HOV access all the way to work, they pay the toll across the bridge (well I get reimbursed), and I make enough money to cover parking. Not that I need it, but a penny saved. Also, by doing just this issues of mileage, wear, depreciation, meh, I’d have that in my commute anyway, if anything I’m saving gas by being able to move in the HOV lane.

    The rider doesn’t have to know I work for a major tech company as a director. I’m just a Lyft/Uber driver.

    I have pondered the insurance angle but this story now has me pondering life choices. I could take the $2500 hit, but if a passenger got hurt — well rule number one of suing people, you sue people with money.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Good column. The “gig economy” is straightforwardly a way of transferring risk from capital to labor. Econ 101 would say that there should be a risk premium paid in exchange, but that’s not happening. Fiscal (mostly tax) policy that keeps evolving to favor investors over workers and monetary policy that enters panic mode every time wages start to rise a bit are the main reasons why.

    • 0 avatar
      notwhoithink

      “The “gig economy” is straightforwardly a way of transferring risk from capital to labor. Econ 101 would say that there should be a risk premium paid in exchange, but that’s not happening.”

      Probably because most of the people who are “working” in the “gig economy” never took Econ 101. Nor do they even have any idea that they’re actually taking on any additional risk. They’re mistakenly assuming that their “employer’s” $1 million insurance policy will cover them for “whatever”, far in excess of what they are ever likely to be hit with. I’ve had people make this argument to me in the past when I pointed out just how bad of a deal the ride sharing companies were for the workers. These companies thrive on the ignorance of most of the people who work for them.

      Many years ago I used to work for a messenger/courier service. The first one I worked for was barely better than a scam, but they signed up “independent contractors” who worked on a 1099 basis. It let the company avoid all of the expense of employees. They simply mandated that their drivers had a valid license and insurance, and they could work for them. In the year I worked for them there were a number off fellow drivers who found out the hard way that their car insurance didn’t cover them under commercial circumstances, so when they got into a bad accident they not only lost their cars but also their jobs. The second one I worked for was much better, in that they mandated that you go on their commercial insurance policy with multi-million dollar limits (for which you paid via a weekly paycheck deduction). But at least you knew you weren’t going to get screwed if you had a wreck.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    It seems the odds of being successful in this gig are in the same ballpark as making a real living selling essential oils or some other quasi-pyramid multilevel marketing nonsense. Even better, you funnel most of the profits upward while keeping 100% of the risk.

  • avatar
    CKNSLS Sierra SLT

    I think other employment depends where you live. In Utah-if your breathing you can get a job-many are at $12.00 to $15.00 an hour.

    Why work for Uber/Lyft and wear out a car-and have the liability that goes along with it?

    Let’s face…the ridesharing companies are just waiting for automated vehicles and that’s why that don’t pay decent wages.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I’ve noticed how social media and web forums are substantially crowed with “easy out” posts similar to this.

    “My check engine light is on, anyone got a fix for this?”
    “My wife wants a divorce, should I move out?”

    And then stuff like this. You’re hooped. Pick up the pieces and start over.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Most personal auto insurance policies do not cover commercial use, and will drop you if they find out. A few allow for commercial use, but do not cover you while you are using the vehicle for commercial use. Uber has a limited policy in force while the Uber driver is logged in but doesn’t have a passenger, and the $1m policy with $1k deductible in force while transporting a passenger. I would wager 90% of Uber/Lyft drivers don’t realize that their insurance doesn’t cover them while doing ride share.

    As for the comments about racking up miles and depreciating your car – that’s true. Anyone who plans to do ride share full time needs to buy a cheap used car for it and not use their newer financed car.

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    I have wondered about the Commercial Insurance situation.

    But maybe this will clarify things a bit. I’m in Montana. My carrier is State Farm. This part of Montana is rapidly growing with new arrivals – mostly from California but some Eastern migration also.

    My agent has a new sales junior agent in his office – a young guy, about 25. He and his brother came out here together.

    He got a job as an agent with State Farm, even though he had some railroad experience and could have gotten on with Montana Rail Link here. Actually, in many ways, it may be the wiser choice.

    His younger brother isn’t doing so well. He’s working with Uber, which opened up here a year ago.

    Now, waiting for eligibility for my own pension, in a few months (age 60) I’d looked into driving with Uber as well. Turns out my old car is too old to carry real-live humans; but I can do the Uber Eats food-delivery. Like Grub Hub.

    That’s probably better; and there’s almost as much demand for it. No signs on the car; and no need for a daily washing. (of the CAR…)

    I’d talked a bit with the kid about how his brother is doing Uber – phone, cell-phone plans…and, yes, insurance.

    He told me his brother only has personal vehicle insurance; and the agent who owns the office, didn’t advise commercial insurance. Now, that may change and probably will; but for now, in this state, State Farm is okay with such an arrangement.

    And Jack is right – Commercial Insurance will eat up a lot of the profit. It’s hard to gross more than $1100 a month out of Uber, here; and now that Verizon downgraded their limited-data plans, the cheapest plan that will run the Uber app is $65 a month. Then gas; and wear on the vehicle…

    It’s a hard way to make a living. A good way to turn spare time into cash; but to really depend on it…it’s not good.

  • avatar
    Nick_515

    “From what I can tell he really means either “girlfriend” or “wife,” but he wrote partner for the same reason that some Americans have lately fallen in love with writing and saying “shite.”

    Jack, not quite sure how you developed that opinion, but you appear fairly uninformed about the important ‘subcultures’ that have used “partner” in lieu of wife(y) or husband for quite some time now. I do not actually like calling my partner my “wife” all that much, although i certainly do sometimes, but way less often than I call her my “spouse.” You may not like it, and the snark wouldn’t bother me, but it’s legit whether you like it or not.


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