Metromile is bringing a new style of car insurance to the market, and it's great for those who aren't putting in a lot of miles behind the wheel. While traditional car insurers determine the bulk of your rate through complex formulas, Metromile emphasizes the amount you drive yearly. Does a better rate automatically translate into the best car insurance around though?
Metromile Review: Low-Cost Auto Insurance for Occasional Drivers
Metromile ranks well in our analysis of the cheapest car insurance for those who drive infrequently (less than 12,000 miles). The young company believes how much a person drives is the biggest indicator of their likelihood of getting into an accident. About half of your rate is based on how many miles you drive per year, and the other half is a flat base rate. Both are determined by your driving history, type of car you drive, and amount of coverage. As a result, your auto insurance premium will change each month based on your mileage, which might not be ideal for drivers who prefer a fixed monthly payment that's easier to budget around.
If you consistently drive a few miles every day, then Metromile Pulse may just be the key to saving on car insurance. Metromile keeps track of your miles by giving you a small device called a Metromile Pulse, which hooks up to your car's diagnostic port. While some people may be uncomfortable with devices that track their GPS, the Metromile Pulse may well be worth it in terms of reducing your costs. Customers have the option to disable GPS, so it'll capture how far you drive, but not where you went. In conjunction with the Metromile smartphone app, the Pulse keeps track of your driving routes, helps you find your car if you forget where you parked, shows gas cost estimates and provides street sweeping alerts in some cities. These alerts are currently up in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, San Diego and Chicago.
There are some considerations, however:
- If you drive more than 12,000 miles a year (the national average), then Metromile may be more expensive than other insurers.
- As a company that focuses on price, there seem to be shortcomings with its claim process based on customer feedback. While drivers may file a claim 24/7, the process has been purported to be slow and at times frustrating. The company tells us that it is taking active steps to improve the experience by introducing automated claims and using technology to optimize its claims experience.
- The young company is also only available in seven states (CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, VA, WA), so it will not be available for a majority of motorists.
How Does Metromile Work?
How does Metromile keep track of your miles? They send you a Metromile Pulse which is a small free wireless device that plugs into your car’s diagnostic port. From there it will keep track of your miles. Unlike Progressive’s Snapshot, which also tracks your miles, Metromile does not base its rates on your driving habits (e.g. how fast you drive or how hard you brake. Progressive customers who signed up for the Snapshot, but tended to brake hard or drive fast, actually saw their rates go up. You won't have to worry about that with Metromile.
In terms of pricing, Metromile quotes you two values.
- The first is a base rate which you pay every month. The base depends on standard factors like your driving history, the car you drive, and the coverage you want. Like with other insurance companies, going with full coverage over basic will generally double the price. If you are 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.
Take for example, a base rate of $40 and a rate per mile of 5 cents. If you drive 200 miles a month (about 2,400 a year) your monthly rate will be $50 per month ($40 + (0.05 * 200)). If you suddenly need to drive 600 miles in one month, then that month increases to $80, which might put a strain on a tight budget. Metromile won’t charge you more than 250 miles a day (150 in NJ) if you were to go on a road trip.
How Do You Get a Quote and What Coverage Do You Get?
Like most other large insurers, Metromile has a simple online form that does not require speaking to an agent. You will be asked like in any other quote form to input information on your vehicle (make, model, type, year, annual mileage), your driving history (accidents, and incidents), and then information about yourself (age, marital status, driver’s license status, 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 each will get its own mileage rate. There is a sales and customer support office located in Tempe, AZ, that can help with quotes if you'd prefer to speak to a person. In terms of types of coverage, Metromile offers the same as every other auto insurance company.
- Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability are mandatory in most states
- Optional Uninsured Motorist Insurance (unless it is mandatory in your state)
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Medical Payments (MedPay)
- Collision and comprehensive insurance (which comes with multiple deductible options in each state)
- 24/7 roadside assistance
- Rental car coverage and reimbursement
Depending on your state some coverages will be mandatory or optional. In Oregon for example, you will have to purcahse PIP.
Will Metromile Save You Money?
Metromile does have the potential to save you lots on your car insurance--but only if you are an infrequent or occasional driver. Although a mile may only cost a few cents, driving 12,000 miles (the national average) per year translates to several hundred dollars. Typically, the base rate will be less than $50 for the sample 30 year old clean driver we evaluated, but several accidents, or opting for full coverage will increase it. We took a look at Metromile quotes from their home state of California, and compared it to quotes from other companies. The annual prices below reflect a 30 year old male driver of a 2011 Toyota Camry from Los Angeles, who has opted for full coverage car insurance.
|6,000 Miles||12,000 Miles||18,000 Miles|
Our driver who drove less than 6,000 miles would be saving at least $400 a year by going with Metromile over every other company beside GEICO. For those who drove 12,000 miles would also be saving a good deal by going with Metromile. Anything over that though, other companies offer better deals.
What About Young Drivers?
You may wonder if the low base rate would apply to young drivers as well. Young drivers usually face expensive rates, with the national average being over $7,000 per year for full coverage. Metromile is not immune to high rates for young drivers however. A few quotes we got for a 20 year old driver from L.A. showed he would be paying a base rate of $180 per month, and a mileage rate as high as 18 cents per mile! Still, if the young driver keeps their mileage low, they may still have a better deal than they would at another company.
Where Can You Get Metromile?
If you are just looking for a great price, and don't mind the negative reviews of customer satisfaction, you still need to be in a state Metromile currently operates. As of September 2017, Metromile operates in only California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Virginia. The company received $191.5MM of funding in September 2016 too, which will allow them to expand operations into other states. It is likely they will be in your state in the near future.
Here's a profile of the typical customer that has signed up for MetroMile in the past:
- Primary age of driver is between 21-40
- They live in urban or high-density neighborhoods, with access to public transit
- Their top car brands are Toyota (Prius), Honda and Nissan
- They typically drive an average of 500 miles per month
More Features of Metromile
A Metromile policy also comes with a few other perks. The most interesting of these is the Metromile app. The Metromile Pulse, the tool that tracks your miles, turns out to do more than just that. In fact, the Pulse will tell you how to optimize your trips to save on gas and mileage. It will also keep track of your car's health, tell you when a street is being swept (in certain cities), and even tell you where you parked your car. All this info is uploaded onto your account on the Metromile app, allowing you to track it all straight from your phone.
As of January 2017, Metromile no longer partners with Uber to insure all parts of the ride.
What Are Things to be Wary of with Metromile?
Usually when an insurance company has low prices, it comes at the expense of something else. GEICO for example frequently has the cheapest pricing, but it tends to have lower customer satisfaction when it comes to actually using the insurance. State Farm on the other hand, though usually more expensive, has an extensive agent network with usually well received customer satisfaction. While the young company has yet to receive formal reviews from the likes of J.D. Power, there exists a number of online customer reviews. They all tend to agree that the pricing for Metromile is great, but the claims process can be quite troublesome.
While they have a 24-hour claims processing center, which is convenient, customers complain the speed at which it is conducted is very slow. Numerous customer reviews state how several weeks or even a couple months will pass without getting an update on a car that needs repair after an accident. There were also a few misgivings regarding billing practices. As a newer company providing highly competitive rates in a highly competitive market, it might fit the bill for lower mileage drivers who are looking for ways to save money.