Uber Driving in Hawaii – Frequently Asked Questions

Uber Driving in Hawaii – Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the Uber driver approval process take?

If you have all the documents ready and uploaded and you pass their background checks and have the necessary items, you could be approved and ready to be an Uber driver within the same day. But, they might reject some items (for example, your driver’s license might be too blurry so you need to send it again) so I would say it would typically take 2 days.

Can I drive any car?

Your car needs to be in decent shape and all your paper work needs to be done (registration, safety, insurance). Your car can’t be too old — 15 years old (currently, I drive a 2004 Corolla… it’s in good shape, but barely young enough for the cut 🙂 ). Also, there are requirements in place, such as no salvage title, it needs 4 doors, it needs to have factory seats, and other things.

How do you find your riders? Is it accurate?

The Uber Driver app works with navigation systems like Google Maps and they also provide their own navigation. It’s fairly accurate when you’re picking people up from homes, which have fixed addresses, but when you pick up people in busy Waikiki, or they keep moving around, or they request a ride from a spot where I can’t drive to, that’s when things can get confusing! 


When you are picking people up in ambiguous areas, my recommendation is this: find a shoulder or parking lot to get out of traffic’s way, then text your rider your location and ask them where they’ll be. Like I said before, sometimes these riders are not thinking about making it easy for the driver to find them and they think it’s Uber magic and a car shows up… so do this extra step to make sure you know where they are.

Has navigation ever been wrong?

I would say that since I work busy areas like Waikiki, about 1/10 times I’ll have a difficult time finding my riders.

ALSO, one odd thing about Waikiki is that the navigation won’t always be right — one notorious example is the Ilikai Hotel! It confused me on my first day of Uber and recently came up again!

map by Google Maps

Google Maps is based on roadways and addresses/landmarks, but it cannot really find driveways and drop-off areas. This is what happened with the Ilikai Hotel: instructions told me to turn left at Kahanamoku Street. To reach the driveway though, you need to take a U-turn at Hobron Lane and then turn right into the hotel from Ala Moana Blvd.

When I recently dropped off a visitor, thankfully, he told me to take the U-turn instead of turning left, so that helped. If he did not know where we were going, we would see an awkward loop around the block. Most drivers will instruct you where you can drop them off.

Tip: If you choose to do Waikiki, have a little familiarity with the locations of some of the major hotels like the Ilikai Hotel, Hale Koa, Hilton Hawaiian Village,  Royal Hawaiian, The Modern will help and keep your music volume low enough where you can communicate with your rider.

What about insurance?

Uber will provide insurance for your time working, through the James River Insurance Company. There are two types of coverage:

Insurance A – When you’re online on the driver app, but before you accept a trip.

Insurance B – When you’re online on the driver app, have accepted a trip

Insurance A has the following coverage:

BODILY INJURY ( Per person)   => $50,000

BODILY INJURY (Per accident) => $100,000

PROPERTY DAMAGE X(Per accident) => $25,000

Insurance B has the following coverage:

$1 million of liability coverage per incident

$1 million of uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage per incident

Helpful explanation taken from Uber’s insurance page

You will still need your own insurance however! You need valid insurance to sign up for Uber. You may also wonder if you need to adjust your normal insurance. Even if you’re covered by Uber’s insurance, your personal insurance will be concerned if you are using your vehicle for additional driving for commercial reasons. In this case, you will want to ask about TNC (transportation network company) insurance aka rideshare insurance. I know for a fact that AllState offers this service for as low as $15-$20 extra to your regular insurance. 

What if a rider vomits in my car?

As a driver that loved night shifts and low traffic times, I picked up a lot of people going to and returning from bars. One lucky night, I was able to pick up 2 different riders who vomited. That’s right — one vomited, I cleaned it, I got back ont he road, then another vomited. Thankfully, both times, it was on the outside of my car.

He did not vomit in the car, but he did leave a streak on the side of my car. I took pictures then sent it to Uber. I think one was $35 and the other was $60 paid to me. I know that the expense can go up to $150 or so, but that is when the rider vomits inside your car and you need professional cleaning.

Here’s the info straight from Uber’s website:

Riders are responsible for damage to the interior or exterior of a vehicle caused by incidents such as vomiting or food spills.

Cleaning fees are assessed and charged according to the extent of the damage. There are 4 levels of severity. From low to high:

  1. Damage that requires vacuuming or simple cleaning (e.g. small messes, food or drink or other liquid spills) is charged $20. Some liquid spills, such as pool or sea water, may be charged up to $50.
  2. Vomit or spills on the exterior of a vehicle are charged $40.
  3. Vomit and larger food or beverage spills on fabric or other hard-to-clean surfaces inside a vehicle typically require detailing and are charged $80.
  4. Significant amounts of bodily fluids (e.g. urine, blood, or vomit) on the vehicle’s interior or messes that require cleaning between the window and door are charged $150.

One thing to note is that although it might sound like a good deal for me, since I can clean that quickly, I need to stop working, then clean it off. If it’s on the interior seats, that means I would have issues with soaking, staining, smell, and the need to go to professional cleaning PLUS the downtime.

Tip: I recommend having barf bags in your car and visible for your riders. If you see drunk-looking passengers, just tell them “hey Rider, bags are under the front seats if you need them.” Or avoid 12am-2:30am times (2am is when most bars close in Honolulu). 

Do you talk to your riders?

It’s expected for people in the service industry in America to at least say “hi” and make eye contact when first get into your vehicle.

I enjoy chatting with my riders. However, I can read signals that suggest they don’t want to talk or if they are friendly. With Japanese tourists I usually don’t bother making conversation.

Some people will want to talk. Others will have friends with them and will use you as a flex-friend or an accessory in their conversations. I usually don’t try to make conversations with couples if they’re whispering to each other in the back. Other people will want to chat with you if you send out a good vibe. Drunks are definitely talkative. One fellow actually yelled at me to turn down my music because he enjoyed talking to me so much about life philosophy!

Tip: If you are good at making conversation and have a pleasant attitude, definitely engage your riders when possible! I definitely see a connection between good conversation and the rider’s likelihood of tipping. 


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