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 using complex formulas, Metromile mainly focuses on the number of miles you drive throughout the year. Does a better rate automatically translate into the best car insurance around though?
Metromile review: Low-cost auto insurance for occasional drivers
About half of your rate is based on the number of miles you drive per year, and the other half 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 is a great fit for those who drive infrequently, about 12,000 miles a year or less. But because your auto insurance premium will change each month based on your mileage, it might not be ideal for drivers who prefer to budget with a fixed monthly payment.
If you consistently drive 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'll 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.
- Show gas cost estimates.
- Provides street-sweeping alerts 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.
- The company seems to focus on price over customer service and a smooth claims process, based on customer feedback. The company says it's improving the experience by introducing automated claims.
- The company only writes policies in eight states: Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington.
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. Unlike Progressive's Snapshot, which also tracks your miles, Metromile does not base its rates on your driving habits. Progressive customers who signed up for 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 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. Like 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.
($0.05 * 200) + $40 = $50
But Metromile won't charge you more than 250 miles a day (150 in New Jersey), which helps if you go on a road trip.
How to get a quote and types of coverage
Like most other large insurers, Metromile has a simple online 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. Its sales and customer support office — located in Tempe, Arizona — 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's 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 purchase PIP.
Will Metromile save you money?
Metromile may save you money — but only if you're an infrequent 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 is less than $50 for the sample 30-year-old with a clean driving record.
But if you have several accidents on your record or choose a full-coverage policy, your premium will increase. We took a look at Metromile quotes from California, and compared it to quotes from other companies. The annual prices below reflect a 30-year-old male driver who has a 2011 Toyota Camry from Los Angeles and chose a full-coverage policy.
|6,000 miles||12,000 miles||18,000 miles|
Our driver who drove fewer than 6,000 miles would save at least $400 a year by going with Metromile over every other company, with the exception of GEICO. People who drive 12,000 miles a year will also save a good deal by going with Metromile. But if you drive much more, then other companies offer better deals.
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 more than $7,000 per year for full coverage. Metromile is not immune to high rates for young drivers. A few quotes we got for a 20-year-old driver from Los Angeles showed he would pay a base rate of $180 per month and a mileage rate as high as 18 cents per mile. Still, it's possible to save by limiting the number of miles you drive.
Where can you get Metromile?
If you are just looking for a great price and don't mind the negative customer service reviews, you still need to be in a state where Metromile operates. As of August 2020, Metromile operates in Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington. The company received $191.5 million in funding in September 2016, which will allow them to expand operations in other states. They may be in your state in the near future.
A typical Metromile customer:
- Is between the ages of 21 and 40.
- Lives in an urban or high-density neighborhood with access to public transit.
- Owns a Toyota Prius, Honda or Nissan.
- Typically drives 500 miles per month on average.
The downsides to Metromile
When an insurance company has low prices, it usually comes at the expense of something else. For example, GEICO typically offers the cheapest pricing but also low customer satisfaction. State Farm, on the other hand, is more expensive but has an extensive agent network with well-received customer service. While Metromile has yet to receive formal reviews from the likes of J.D. Power, there are many online customer reviews. They all tend to agree that the pricing for Metromile is great, but the claims process can be quite troublesome.
And if you drive for a ride-sharing service, you may be out of luck. Metromile no longer partners with Uber to insure all parts of the ride.
While they have a 24-hour claims processing center, which is convenient, customers complain about the slow process. Numerous customers have said it takes several weeks or even months to get an update on a car that needs repairs 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.