To calculate your rates, auto insurance companies ask the number of miles you drive per year. The insurer’s goal is to price the policy according to the risk it presents. Since lower-mileage drivers are less risky, insurers offer them lower rates.
That’s why, when I started working from home (which cut the miles I drive per year from around 10,000 to 5,000), I decided to see if I could save money by switching insurance companies.
I compared rates from:
- The Zebra: A large comparison site that includes quotes from big names like Allstate, State Farm, and Geico.
- USAA & Amica: Two insurance companies that consistently rank highest in overall customer satisfaction.
- Metromile: A newer insurance company that offers pay-per-mile rates (otherwise known as usage-based insurance).
When all was said and done, I went with Metromile and have been a customer for over a year.
In this Metromile review, you’ll learn:
- About Metromile and its business model
- How Metromile works
- How Metromile calculates its rates
- Available coverage options
Metromile is definitely not for everyone, but it can save you a lot of money in the right circumstances.
Metromile Insurance Review
About Metromile Insurance Company
Metromile is a San Francisco-based startup known for being one of the first companies to offer car insurance on a pay-per-mile basis. If you’re not familiar with the pay-per-mile concept, it’s exactly what it sounds like: you pay for insurance based on how much you drive.
Most auto insurers use “miles driven” as factor in your rate. That’s because, from an insurer’s perspective, someone who drives 7,500 miles per year presents less of risk than someone who drives 10,000 miles per year. Asking potential customers this question is helpful to insurance companies, but only to a degree; after all, it relies on people’s willingness to provide honest answers—sometimes, at the cost of a higher quote.
That’s where Metromile saw an opportunity. The company uses a GPS device to track the actual number of miles a policyholder drives, and is therefore able to provide a more accurate (and often lower) rate.
This business model is becoming more and more ubiquitous in the insurance industry. GPS devices can be used to track data such as miles driven and driving habits, while smartphones can be used to track other data, such as who is driving the car (i.e., teen vs. parent) and phone use.
Why the need for more data?
Auto insurance is a low-margin business. After operating expenses and losses are paid, a well-run company like Geico makes around 6 cents for every dollar it collects.
Now, say a competitor—using better data—was able to make 7 cents for every dollar collected. That’s a 16% increase in profit margin.
With billions of dollars at stake, it’s not hard to see why more companies are being founded to disrupt the traditional insurance model. Metromile is one of the leaders of that group of companies.
How Does Metromile Work?
Out of all the different variables new tracking technology allows insurers to collect, Metromile focuses on just one: the number of miles you drive. This data is tracked through the Metromile Pulse, a small, wireless device that plugs into your car’s diagnostic port (the OBD-II port).
Here’s what the device looks like:
As a driver, you’ll be charged a base rate per month. After that, you’ll pay a certain amount for every mile you drive.
Metromile determines these rates using similar factors as other auto insurance companies, including age, location, driving history, and credit score.
To give you an example of how this works, here are the rates I’m paying:
For my 2014 Honda Odyssey, I pay a base rate of $20.40 per month. I then pay a 3.7-cent per-mile rate. That means that if I were to drive 500 miles in a month, I would pay a total of $38.90—$20.40 for the base rate and $18.50 for the mileage.
You can add multiple cars to your policy, which will each have a different base and per-mile rate. For example, my 2012 Ford Fusion has a base rate of $22.32 per month and a per-mile rate of 4.2 cents.
When I was shopping around for my insurance, the lowest comparable rate I found for both cars was $106 per month from Esurance. After a year of being with Metromile, I have yet to spend more than $100 per month.
Here’s my bill:
Other Metromile Pricing Factors
Above, I talked about how Metromile’s base and per-mile rates work. But there are a number of other factors that will influence the price you’ll pay (just as there are with other insurance companies).
- Where you live: Driving in cities tends to be more expensive, while driving in rural areas can save you money.
- Driving record and credit score: Most insurance companies use this information when determining rates.
- Age of driver: If you have a teenage driver in your household, expect to pay more. If you’re older than 55, you may pay less because of a mature driver discount.
- Type of coverage: Most auto insurance plans are customizable; you can select higher or lower deductibles, different levels of collision and bodily injury protection, and add-ons like comprehensive (which covers damage caused by things like falling trees and hail). Your price will vary widely depending on the coverage options you choose.
To help you figure out what kind of coverage you want, here’s a chart showing coverage options for the comprehensive deductible, collision deductible, and bodily injury and property damage that were available to me. (This will vary based upon your state’s minimum requirements and insurance laws.)
|Comprehensive Deductible||Collision Deductible||Bodily Injury & Property Damage Liability Coverage|
|No Coverage||No Coverage|
Coverage Options and Add-Ons
There are also optional coverages, including:
- Rental car reimbursement: You’ll be capped at $30 per day, or a maximum of $900 per claim.
- Roadside assistance: Runs between $5 and $7 per month and covers flat tire fixes, locksmith services, emergency gas delivery, and towing up to a certain distance (which varies by state).
- Medical payments. Pays any deductibles and copayments that are not covered by your health insurance.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury: This is an important coverage that provides insurance for you when an at-fault driver is either uninsured or doesn’t have enough insurance to cover all the damages in a claim. Injuries resulting from a serious car accident can easily eclipse $100,000—not including pain and suffering. But in some states, the minimum insurance coverage is far below that. For example, in Virginia, a driver only has to carry $25,000 in coverage. Carrying an underinsurance policy can help cover the difference.
Metromile doesn’t offer umbrella coverage, which is a type of insurance that extends your limits of liability to protect against large claims. If that matters to you, add it to your home insurance policy.
What About Road Trips?
One question I had when signing up for Metromile was, “what about road trips?” My family takes a few road trips every year, so if we drove 500 miles per day that could get very pricey very quickly.
The good news with Metromile is that you’re not charged for the miles you drive above 250 per day (or 150 in certain states). To put that into context, driving 250 miles at a 3.7-cent base rate would equal $9.25 each way.
This is less than ideal when you’re driving long distances over multiple days. While $9.25 two ways doesn’t break the bank, it can add up quickly if you’re driving 250 miles for six or seven days straight.
What States is Metromile Available In?
One of the biggest drawbacks about Metromile is its lack of geographic availability. Currently, it’s only offered in Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.
However, the company is growing. So if it’s something you’d like to consider in the future, keep checking their website to see if they’ve added your state.
Metromile Customer Service
So far, all of my customer service experiences with Metromile have been positive.
I’ve only called Metromile once. But when I did, I got connected to someone right away.
I’ve also used the online chat function a few times; it’s a handy option for when you have a quick question. Again, I’ve always been answered right away with this method.
Luckily for me, I haven’t had to file a claim yet. But that’s the ultimate judge of how much you’ll like an insurance company. Will they have your back when you file a claim, or will they fight you tooth and nail?
When it comes to claims, one interesting thing about Metromile is that 100% of its policyholders have a GPS tracking device installed. The company has tried to use this to its advantage in building an efficient claims department. It has also turned to the use of artificial intelligence.
Metromile has what it calls an “AI Claims Assistant,” which it has named AVA.
According to a post on the Metromile blog:
Behind the scenes, we have a team of data scientists utilizing machine learning capabilities and teaching AVA new skills that will expedite the claims process. AVA can also use opt-in sensor data from the Metromile Pulse device to reconstruct the accident scene, expediting the approval process. For certain claim types, this enables the claim to be instantly approved.
Of course, we still have our in-house team of claims professionals that are always available to help if needed. Since AVA helps automate tedious tasks, our adjusters can spend their valuable time speaking to customers and making sure everything is taken care of.
Since I don’t have any experience with Metromile when it comes to claims, I looked around online. There are some mixed reviews about how claims were handled. I can say that I was comfortable enough trusting Metromile to insure me after reading these reviews, though.
The app also provides useful information like street sweeping alerts. And if there’s something wrong with your car, you’ll get “check engine” alerts sent to your phone (since the device is plugged in to the diagnostic port).
One of my favorite things about the app is that it shows your car’s location, which can be handy for the times when you can’t remember where you parked.
When Does Pay-Per-Mile Insurance Make Sense?
There’s no question that lower-mileage drivers benefit the most from Metromile. The company’s CEO Dan Preston stated that in 2014, “If you’re driving under 5,000 miles per year, you will save 40 to 50 percent on your car insurance.”
Beyond that 5,000 mile mark, Metromile hasn’t publicly stated what they consider “low mileage.”
The average household drives about 12,000 miles per year, per vehicle. If you’re somewhere below that figure, I’d give Metromile a shot.
How To Get A Quote From Metromile
Shopping around for auto insurance should be on everyone’s annual financial checklist because it’s a simple way to save big bucks.
Because Metromile is a tech company, it’s easy to get a quote. Just go to Metromile.com and have your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) ready. Also, have your driver’s license number (and your spouse’s) on hand.
Root vs. Metromile vs. Progressive
Metromile and Root are often lumped together because they are the biggest startups in the “insurtech” industry.
Root is quite a bit different in that it isn’t based on a pay-per-mile model, but rather on driving behavior (see our in-depth review of Root). The company considers factors such as braking, speed of turns, driving times, and route consistency. Root’s goal is to create an entire customer base of good drivers, and the company charges those good drivers much lower premiums.
Progressive’s Snapshot program takes both mileage and driving behavior into consideration. If you have both these things going for you, you can get a decent discount off your current Progressive policy.
Metromile is shaking up the auto insurance industry by using technology to help people save, similar to how Arcadia Power is using technology to disrupt the utilities industry and empower people to utilize clean energy. It’s great that there’s a legion of startups dedicated to leveraging these new tools to help consumers… and it’s working.
When I shopped for my auto insurance, I went to Esurance, Amica, and an aggregator to get quotes from multiple companies. Metromile was by far the lowest price.
So far, so good. As a low-mileage driver, my experience has been positive. If you don’t drive much in your primary car, or if you have a secondary car that you only use occasionally, it’s worth taking the time to get a Metromile quote.