Business Insurance

How To Get Started As A Self-Employed Courier

Delivery/courier work is a more viable employment option than ever before, and more and more people are considering it as the market continues to grow. We've put together a few tips that you might not have thought of before you start your courier adventures.

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How To Get Started As A Self-Employed Courier/Delivery Driver

The meteoric rise of home delivery businesses means there’s no better time to consider becoming a self-employed courier or delivery driver. Deliveroo alone has seen growth of more than 39% this year, with larger competitor JustEat posting more modest (but still highly impressive) growth of 19%, per BrandZ's report of the most valuable brands in the UK.

While finding businesses hiring for courier and delivery drivers is easier than ever (UberEats and Amazon are two more good companies to consider), you may have questions about what you’ll need to get sorted before you start delivering, but we’ve got you covered—here’s all the most important things you’ll need to know before getting to work.

1. Pick The Right Vehicle

You’ll be spending a lot of time in your vehicle—try and pick one you’ll be comfortable in!

The most important part of being a successful courier/delivery driver (apart from yourself, of course) is your vehicle. You’ll be racking up far more mileage than usual, so having a vehicle with good fuel efficiency that is cheap to maintain can help you save money on fuel and repairs over the course of your professional driving career, even if you’re only driving for a short time.

Depending on the business you work for, there may also be certain criteria your vehicle needs to meet before you’ll be allowed to sign-up—Amazon Flex, for example needs your vehicle to be at least a mid-size 4 door car, so no coupes or 2 doors, with Uber requiring your vehicle to be an ‘08 model or newer in London (and ‘06 or newer elsewhere).

There are, of course, many more things to consider when purchasing a vehicle than just fuel efficiency and cost of repairs, whether for personal or work use. Here are a few more things to consider before picking the car, van or motorbike you’re going to use:

  • Boot capacity
  • Wheelbase size
  • Drive comfort
  • Insurance cost
  • Engine size/power
  • Reliability

Finally, we’ve put together a more comprehensive guide to the best cars/vans for couriers, covering their cost and popularity in the UK. Check it out if you might like to know more about what other couriers and delivery drivers are driving.

2. Get Insured

It goes without saying, but updating your vehicle insurance to include cover for delivery/courier work (often referred to as “Hire and Reward”) is imperative to making sure you’re not at risk of driving uninsured. You'll need delivery driver insurance before you start driving to make deliveries. It may surprise you to know that none of the UK’s top car insurers will cover delivery driver or courier work, so if your policy is with the likes of Churchill or Direct Line then you may be at risk.

In short, most drivers have two options—take out a specialist courier policy (that also usually includes your Social, Domestic & Pleasure cover) or use a “top-up”/”pay-as-you-go” Hire and Reward policy from the likes of Zego. Both have their benefits and disadvantages.

A specialist Courier insurance (which our partners at QuoteZone can help you find—just fill out a quote form) can be more expensive but guarantees you’ll be covered in the event of an accident. “Top-up” cover can be cheaper (especially for part-time drivers) but can often leave drivers at risk of voiding their Social, Domestic & Pleasure coverage, so make sure you’ve done your research before taking one out and are certain your insurer allows them.

We’ve put together an in-depth guide to Courier insurance that covers everything you’ll need to know before working as a delivery driver, so take a look if you have any questions about what you do/don’t need, and our research on the average cost of Courier insurance goes into more detail about how much you can expect to pay.

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3. Plan Ahead To Maximise Your Earnings

Once your vehicle and insurance are sorted, it’s time to have a think about how you want to spend your time delivering. There are a few simple ways to make sure you’re earning as much as possible with however much time you choose to put into delivering each week.

  • Compare apps/local delivery businesses
  • Work with multiple companies
  • Work during peak hours
  • Focus on busy regions with more work available

When comparing apps and local delivery businesses, there's a few things to consider. Local takeaways are far more likely to keep you nearby (great for getting home) but you might only be required on busier days of the week (Friday/Saturday)—you'll probably have more luck with the mobile apps during "slower" days, but may have to travel away from your local area to nearby "hot spots" to find work.

Similarly, consider how much you're being paid by each. Most of the apps pay fairly similarly, so if you find a local takeaway paying above market rate then it might make sense to commit your Friday's and Saturday's there. But if you need to be paid weekly, then all of the big apps can offer you this—some takeaways might pay bi-weekly or even monthly.

We have (perhaps unsurprisingly at this point) put together a few tips and tricks on increasing your earnings while driving, so have a read if you’re wondering how to make as much as possible (or are already working and feel like you’re under-earning).

4. Courier FAQ's

Courier work is well-known for incredibly quick pay turnaround. JustEat, UberEats, Amazon and Deliveroo all pay on a weekly basis, and some will even pay you earlier if you need the money ASAP—obviously only for work you've already completed (although they do sometimes charge a fee for this, so keep that in mind).

A standard day for a courier will involve collecting items, transporting them and then delivering them to the end customer. How exactly this is scheduled depends on the business you work for—Amazon, for example, will typically involve collecting multiple packages from an Amazon depot and delivering them to multiple addresses in the local area. On the flip side of that, working for a food delivery business like Deliveroo will usually involve traveling to a nearby restaurant, collecting the food and delivering it to your customer, and then heading to a new restaurant to repeat the process.

Keep in mind that you can't be "on-call" with two apps at once, and none of the delivery businesses allow you to deliver for multiple companies at the same time—that means if you're on the clock with Deliveroo, you aren't allowed to pick up JustEat orders, so make sure you've picked the app you think you're going to be most successful with.

If you aren't seeing a lot of activity, there's nothing to stop you from logging out of one app and into another one, provided you're not in the process of collecting/making a delivery. You can learn more about the process of sending parcels by courier here.

Luke Masters

Prior to NimbleFins, Luke studied economics at Brunel University and worked at FreshMinds, Investigo and BMW. His work in data analytics, pricing, strategy and business development helped him write business insurance content to support SMEs at NimbleFins. He now works at DataPOWA, a sports & entertainment data analytics company. Read more on LinkedIn.