Metromile is a pay-per-mile insurer — a new method of insurance pricing that has emerged in recent years. While traditional car insurers determine the bulk of your rate using complex formulas, Metromile mainly focuses on the number of miles you drive throughout the year. But does a better rate automatically translate into the best car insurance around?
Metromile review: low-cost auto insurance for occasional drivers
With Metromile, a portion of your rate is based on the number of miles you drive per year, and the other part is a flat base rate. Both parts are determined by your driving history, the type of car you drive and the amount of coverage you purchase.
Metromile offers great rates, particularly to those who drive 12,000 miles a year or fewer. But because your monthly mileage determines your monthly premium, it might not be ideal for drivers who prefer a fixed monthly payment.
If you consistently drive only a few miles every day, then Metromile Pulse may be the key to saving on car insurance. Metromile keeps track of your miles with Metromile Pulse, a small device that hooks up to your car's diagnostic port. Customers can even disable the GPS function — so it will capture how far you drive, but not where you went. In conjunction with the Metromile smartphone app, the Pulse can:
- Keep track of your driving routes.
- Help you find your car if you forget where you parked.
- Alert you to certain issues with your vehicle.
- Show gas cost estimates.
- Provide street-sweeping alerts in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, San Diego and Chicago.
There are some considerations, however:
- You might rack up enough miles that your rates could wind up more expensive than what a standard insurer offers.
- The company seems to focus on price over a smooth claims process, based on customer feedback.
- The company only writes policies in eight states: Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington.
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How does Metromile work?
Metromile sends drivers a Metromile Pulse, which is a small, free wireless device that plugs into the car's diagnostic port. From there, it will track your miles.
Additionally, Metromile uses the Pulse to monitor and adjust rates based on driving behavior in certain states. In Arizona, Illinois, Oregon and Virginia, Metromile takes the following habits into account when calculating rates:
- Which days of the week you drive
- What times of day you drive
- Your average speed while driving
For Virginia drivers, Metromile factors in the time spent on each individual trip. Drivers in the other four states where Metromile operates do not have their driving habits factored into their rates.
In terms of pricing, Metromile quotes you two values:
- The first is a base rate that you pay every month. The base depends on standard factors such as your driving history, the car you drive and the coverage you want. As with other insurance companies, going with full coverage over basic will generally double the price. If you are a young and/or risky driver, the base rate will also be higher.
- The second is a cost-per-mile rate, which is multiplied by your actual monthly mileage. The two numbers are added, and that's your monthly rate.
For example, let's say your base rate is $40, your per-mile rate is 5 cents and you drive 200 miles a month. Here's how you would calculate your monthly rate:
($0.05 * 200) + $40 = $50
But Metromile won't charge you more than 250 miles a day (or 150 miles per day in New Jersey), which can help if you go on a road trip.
How to get a quote
Like most other large insurers, Metromile has a simple online quote form that does not require speaking to an agent. You'll enter information about:
- Your vehicle: make, model, type, year and annual mileage
- Your driving history: accidents and other claims
- Personal details: age, marital status, driver's license status and and occupation
Once you get your quote, you can purchase the policy from the website with a credit card. If you sign up multiple cars on the policy, each will get its own base rate and mileage rate. Shoppers who prefer to get a quote via phone can call (888) 242-5204.
Metromile Ride Along
If you want to try Metromile but you're not ready to commit to a full policy term, the company offers a trial program called Ride Along. Instead of using the Metromile Pulse to track your driving, the company uses its app to monitor your driving for 17 days. After that, Metromile will estimate how much your monthly bill is.
You are not required to purchase insurance from Metromile after Ride Along. This makes it an ideal tool for those who find themselves on the road less as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and want to try a pay-per-mile insurance program.
What coverage and discounts does Metromile offer?
Metromile stands out because it includes $1,000 of pet injury coverage if you purchase collision and comprehensive coverage. If your windshield or window cracks, Metromile also waives your comprehensive deductible if your car's glass can be repaired instead of replaced.
Other available coverages from Metromile include:
- Bodily injury liability
- Property damage liability
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury
- Underinsured motorist property damage
- Collision deductible waiver
- Personal injury protection (PIP)
- Medical payments (MedPay)
- Collision and comprehensive coverage
- 24/7 roadside assistance
- Rental car coverage and reimbursement
Depending on your state, some coverages are mandatory or optional. In Oregon, for example, drivers must purchase PIP.
Discounts from Metromile differ depending on which state you live in. For instance, discounts available in Virginia include:
- Multi-car discount, for policyholders who insure more than one car with Metromile.
- Homeowner discount, for policyholders who own a home, mobile home or condo.
- Mature driver discount, for drivers over 65 years old who have completed a driver training course.
- Paperless discount, for policyholders who receive documents electronically.
- Continuous insurance discount, for policyholders who have been insured prior to signing up with Metromile.
- Safe driving discount, for drivers who have avoided points on their driving record.
- Five-year accident-free discount, for drivers who have avoided at-fault accidents for five years.
- Full-coverage discount, for cars that have collision coverage in place.
- Multi-policy discount, for those who also purchase home insurance from Hippo, a Metromile partner.
Will Metromile save you money?
Metromile offers exceptionally affordable rates — even when drivers go above the standard 12,000 miles per year. We found that liability-only rates from Metromile were 40% cheaper than average for California drivers who put 5,000 to 7,500 miles on their car annually. For drivers who put 12,500 to 16,000 miles per year on their car, rates were 30% cheaper than average.
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5,000 to 7,500 miles
7,600 to 10,000 miles
12,500 to 16,000 miles
Rate data from the California Department of Insurance.
Before you commit to Metromile, we recommend getting a quote and using it to calculate an approximate monthly rate. Once you have that, compare quotes from at least three other insurers, making sure you select the same coverage levels. Comparison shopping is always the best way to secure an affordable rate.
What about young drivers?
You may wonder if the low base rate would apply to young drivers as well, since young drivers usually face expensive rates. In fact, the national average for this demographic is $2,859 per year for full coverage.
Young drivers are not immune to high rates from Metromile. Metromile quoted a 20-year-old driver from Los Angeles a base rate of $189 per month and a mileage rate as high as 35 cents per mile for full coverage. Still, it's possible to save by limiting the number of miles you drive.
Downsides to Metromile
When an insurance company has low prices, it may come at the expense of something else — and Metromile is no exception. The company received over five times as many complaints as would be expected for an insurer of its size, according to data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
While the company has a 24-hour claims processing center, which is convenient, customers complain about delays and denials of claims. There were also a few complaints about cancellation, premium notice and billing, according to NAIC data.
And if you drive for a ride-sharing service or delivery, you may be out of luck. Metromile does not insure drivers who use their cars for popular ridesharing or delivery services like Postmates, Uber or Lyft.
As a newer company providing highly competitive rates in a highly competitive market, it might fit the bill for drivers whose top priority is to save money. If you're willing to pay a little more for a reliable claims experience, however, we recommend going with another insurer.
To compare Metromile's rates to competitors', we used rate data from the California Department of Insurance. Rates, unless otherwise noted, reflect the cost of a liability-only policy for a single driver who lives in central Los Angeles, has a clean record and has been licensed for 14 to 25 years.
To determine how much Metromile charges young drivers, we used the company's online tool to get a quote for a 20-year-old driver who is a full-time student living in Los Angeles ZIP code 90046. He has a clean record, drives a 2015 Honda Civic EX and has been licensed since age 16.
|Bodily injury liability||$50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident|
|Property damage liability||$50,000 per accident|
|Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury||$50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident|
|Comprehensive and collision||$500 deductible|
|Collision deductible waiver||None|
|Uninsured motorist property damage||None|
|Rental car reimbursement||None|