Last Updated on 2023-08-03

How To Start Working For DoorDash: Insurance, Taxes, & More

We worked with these active, experienced gig-workers to write this article and bring you first-hand knowledge.

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Phil Grossman

Experienced writer/researcher in the gig industry working alongside our gig-workers

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Ricardo Cervantes

5 years of experience working across DoorDash and Postmates

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Scott Jones

7 years of experience working across DoorDash, Lyft, Amazon Flex, and Instacart

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Michael Vaness

6 years of experience working across DoorDash, Instacart, and Spark

The information provided in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, tax, or insurance advice. The content contains general information and may not reflect recent changes. Any reader should consult with a legal or tax professional to obtain advice tailored to their specific circumstances.

Getting started with DoorDash is usually a quick and easy process — there’s very few requirements you need to meet, you don’t need any prior work experience, and in many cases, you’ll be all set to start dashing within about 2 days (but it can take longer, so plan for up to two weeks).

All you really need to become a Dasher is to:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Own an iPhone or Android phone so you can download the Dasher app
  • Have access to a vehicle that you can use for deliveries (bike, car, truck, scooter, etc.)
  • Pass a background check

The first step to becoming a Dasher is to submit your application. That will kick things off. 

But as simple as the startup process is, there’s still a lot that can take some getting used to — especially if you’ve never worked as an independent contractor before. To make sure you have all your bases covered, you’ll need to sort out your:

  • Car insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Taxes (quarterly and annual)
  • Vehicle situation

And if you really want to make the most of DoorDash, you may have to learn some new skill sets too: customer service, self discipline, road safety, and more. 

We’ll cover all the essentials you need to know to start dashing here. But make sure to check out our other posts too, which go deeper into each individual topic (we’ll be linking to them along the way to make things easier for you). 

What to expect from the DoorDash application process

Overall, applying to DoorDash is pretty simple. In fact, it’s not really a traditional application process at all — you don’t need to submit any resumes, go for any interviews, or write any cover letters. 

It’s more similar to applying for a rewards program than it is to applying for a job: DoorDash really just wants to make sure that you are who you say you are and don’t have a history that could make you a dangerous Dasher. 

To apply, just: 

  1. Click “sign up” here
  2. Fill out your basic information (zip code, age, etc.)
  3. Pass an identity verification
  4. Pass a background check 

You can finish the initial signup in about 5 minutes. The background check can sometimes take a little longer — up to 2 weeks. 

Scott Jones, who has been dashing since 2018, says that in his experience, it takes most people 5 business days to be approved to start delivering. He advises to “prepare for a week, so you aren't caught without a paying job when rent is due.”

There’s no drug test required, but it’s possible that prior drug convictions on your background check (especially ones that involve a vehicle, such as a DUI) could make you fail the background check. 

That said, DoorDash does hire drivers with prior felony convictions, so don’t hesitate to apply out of fear that you might not pass the background check — prior convictions are accepted or denied on a case by case basis, and there’s no way to know in advance how you’ll fare. 

What car insurance do I need for DoorDash? 

All Dashers need to have at least the minimum car insurance coverage required by their state to work for DoorDash. Any coverage you get beyond that is up to your personal preferences. 

Dashers are also covered up to $1,000,000 by DoorDash’s commercial liability insurance in case you injure someone or damage someone’s property while dashing. However, this insurance doesn’t cover your own injuries or any damages to your vehicle — that’s all part of your own personal insurance policy (if you opt for full coverage insurance).

If you already have a car insurance policy that meets your state’s requirements — or in other words, if you’re driving legally — you’re likely all set to start Dashing. 

But be careful — many insurers are not happy to cover delivery drivers and will make your life difficult. 

Michael Vaness, who has been doing gig work for three years, says “most car insurance companies see delivery drivers as a bigger risk/liability and will either deny you coverage, drop your coverage if you had insurance prior to driving, or give you coverage at higher rates than anyone who isn't a delivery driver. More time on the road means more chances of accidents.”

If you plan to dash on a bike or on a scooter, you won’t need any insurance. If you plan to dash on a motorcycle, you’ll need to meet your state’s requirements. 

Does DoorDash offer health insurance?

No, DoorDash doesn’t offer health insurance to its Dashers. 

When you drive for DoorDash, you’re working as an independent contractor, not an employee. That means that you don’t qualify for employee benefits, like health insurance. 

DoorDash does have a partnership with Stride, which can help Dashers find insurance coverage more easily. You can also purchase health insurance through your state’s health insurance marketplace. 

If your annual income is below the current Federal Poverty Level of $14,580, you’re likely eligible for Medicaid. In that case, you must apply for Medicaid through your state’s marketplace, not Stride. 

Similarly, if you’re over retirement age and eligible for Medicare, Stride is also not an option for you.

How do I handle taxes while working for DoorDash?

If this is your first time working as an independent contractor, filing your taxes as a Dasher can take a little getting used to. 

Since employees have their taxes taken out of their paychecks, they only need to file their taxes once a year. Independent contractors, however, need to pay estimated tax payments four times a year. 

The purpose of these payments is to make quarterly tax installments based on your best guess of how much you’ll earn that year — hence “estimated” taxes. That way, you don’t get stuck with a big tax bill that you didn’t plan for. 

If you estimate well, you won’t have to pay anything else when you file your annual taxes. If you underestimated your earnings, you’ll owe the difference, and if you overestimated, you’ll get a refund. 

It may sound complex, but it’s a pretty simple process, it just requires a bit of planning to make sure you meet the payment deadlines and understand the relevant tax codes — otherwise, you can end up with penalties from the IRS for underpayment.

Plus, you’ll also need to pay self-employment taxes. As an employee, your employer pays half of your Medicare and Social Security taxes. But as an independent contractor, you’re your own employer, and you’ll need to pay both the employer and employee portion, which adds an extra 7.65% onto your tax bill.

But it’s not all bad — being self-employed also gives you an opportunity to save on taxes by deducting all your business expenses. 

Scott advises dashers to “keep meticulous notes on your expenses, schedule, mileage, etc. If you buy any DoorDash gear, or anything to make this job easier, whether that be a jacket, new shoes, the DoorDash logo for your car window, or even a new second phone to use specifically for DoorDashing, that is coming off your taxes, but ONLY if you keep your receipts!”

To make all that easier, you can use the Stride app to track your mileage, manage your deductions, and prepare your taxes. Stride is partnered with DoorDash, and can help you get health insurance as well. 

Getting your vehicle ready

DoorDash doesn’t have any specific requirements set out for vehicles, so you can Dash in an old jalopy, a luxury sedan, or in some markets, even on a bike or motorcycle. In fact, you may even be able to DoorDash on foot as a walker. 

Getting your tote bag and Red Card

Chances are that you’re already familiar with the iconic DoorDash tote bag. Well, as a Dasher, you’ll get one of your own, as well as a DoorDash Red Card, which you will use to pay for non-prepaid orders. 

You’ll get both of these items after you make your first delivery, so once you’re approved, don’t wait until you get them in the mail to start Dashing. 

How to make more money as a better Dasher

To excel in any job, you’ll need to learn the tricks of the trade, and DoorDash is no different. To really make the most of dashing and reach your full earning potential, you’ll need to develop your customer service skills, learn your way around the app, hone your driving skills, and if you’re planning on dashing with a bike, you’ll also need to stay in shape. 

The best way to become a better Dasher is to learn from others. You can find groups on Facebook and communities on Reddit where you can connect with other Dashers, share your experiences, and learn from each other. 

What else do I need to know?

Before you start Dashing, check out these other topics:

Ready to get started? Click here to sign up to be a Dasher so you can get on the road ASAP (pending Dasher approval and local availability). 

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