If you drive for Uber long enough, there is a solid chance that your car is going to be damaged by a passenger.
The good news is that Uber has a system that charges passengers a cleaning and damage fee that can compensate you for messes and damage.
You can get anywhere from $20–$250 for the damage if you contact Uber to report the issue, take a photo of the mess or the damage, and get an estimate for the repair.
But many drivers don’t know that Uber won’t pay you for damage that they consider to be ‘wear and tear.’
Uber does not compensate drivers for wear and tear
According to messages from Uber support, Uber will not compensate drivers for the following wear and tear:
- Minor scratches/marks to interior plastics from shoes/clothing/carried items
- Seat burns/stains from smoking (unless the driver indicates that the burn was the result of deliberate vandalism)
- Damaged plastics on door or center console caused by shoes (scuff marks)
- Soiling to seats and carpets (fading/scratched leather or cloth interior caused by normal usage)
- Door handles or window opening mechanisms (handle/button) stops functioning (even if the door is slammed shut by a passenger)
- Air conditioning adjustment vents (without any violent action by passengers)
- Seat belt fails to retract properly, or other seat belt related damage
- Seat mounting brackets fail due to prolonged use
- Damage caused by the transportation or movement of luggage
- Detachment of or damage to removable parts such as rubber seals, headrests, vent covers, seat and belt casings (when there is no allegation of theft)
Your damage matches the list above? You won’t get paid
Uber will reject your request if you ask for compensation for any of the damage listed above.
Here’s a story from a driver who was denied a damage fee when a passenger dropped their luggage on his bumper.
Damage to bumpers during loading and unloading is specifically mentioned as uncovered wear and tear.
Most of the wear and tear items are reasonable. How can you charge any one passenger for everyday damage or damage that may be the result of the accumulated wear and tear from many different passengers?
Wear and tear scenarios: Will you get paid?
To give give you an idea of what Uber covers and what Uber considers routine wear and tear.
Scenario: Passenger breaks an AC vent while adjusting it
Verdict: Uber won’t pay a damage fee
Scenario: An angry passenger slams their fist on the dash, damaging the AC vent
Verdict: Uber may pay a damage fee
Scenario: A passenger drops their luggage on your bumper while loading it into your trunk, leaving a dent and paint damage
Verdict: Uber won’t pay a damage fee
Scenario: You have footage of a passenger pulling and prying at an interior part, and breaking it
Verdict: Uber will likely pay a damage fee
Cleaning fees are more common than damage fees
Earning a cleaning fee is a fairly common experience for Uber drivers.
But it’s much more rare to find a story from a driver who was paid for vehicle damage.
Why are cleaning fees more common than damage fees?
It’s hard to say for sure, but I think it’s easier to attribute a mess to an individual passenger.
It’s harder to point the finger at one person for damage, especially if it may be ordinary wear and tear.
It comes down to who Uber believes, and Uber tends to want to make the passenger happy.
Drivers can abuse the cleaning and damage fee system
Passengers can make false claims about drivers and get them deactivated.
And drivers can make false claims about passengers to collect big cleaning and damage fees.
It’s a tough spot for Uber to be in. Who do you trust? How much proof is enough?
Uber may request an invoice or estimate
It doesn’t hurt to ask!
Even if you think that Uber will deny your damage claim, it never hurts to ask.
Contact Uber and report the damage if you genuinely think a passenger should be charged for the damage that they did to your car.
Take clear pictures and write a clear and concise story about the incident.
Your claim may be rejected, but you never know. You might get paid.