Medical Payments and Personal Injury Protection Explained

If you’ve been visiting the Metromile blog for a while, there’s a decent chance you’re well on your way to becoming a coverage connoisseur, able to effortlessly rattle off the differences between collision, comprehensive, liability, and uninsured coverage. But even if you’re just kicking off your insurance education, you’re probably already hip to the fact that not all coverage is created equal. That’s why today, we’re breaking down even more must-know terms: medical payments coverage and Personal Injury Protection (PIP).

Medical-Payments-and-Personal-Injury-Protection-Explained

The Basics: What Are Medical Payments and Personal Injury Protection Coverage?

Medical Payments Coverage

Unsurprisingly, medical payments coverage (sometimes called medical expense or MedPay) is intended to cover the costs of, well, medical payments that are the result of an accident. This type of coverage protects you no matter who is at fault for the accident. While your health insurance plan may go a long way in paying for medical costs, MedPay typically fills in the gaps and is a good go-to in the case of low limits or high deductibles. Aside from covering any necessary hospital expenses, medications, etc., medical payment insurance may help pay for any injuries sustained by your passengers, injuries you sustain as a pedestrian or bicyclist if a driver hits you, any necessary dental care resulting from the accident, and, in the worst case scenario, funeral expenses.

Personal Injury Protection Coverage

Personal Injury Protection is similar but distinct; while medical payments coverage is strictly intended to cover medical bills, PIP takes things a step further, covering health costs and resulting lost wages for you and your passengers after an accident, regardless of fault. Unlike bodily injury liability insurance, which covers damages to other people If you cause an accident, PIP pays for your expenses. And while MedPay and PIP overlap in some areas, PIP usually covers more expenses and is written specifically for car-related injuries, which are sometimes excluded from certain health insurance policies.

But all that info is general — the specifics of medical payments coverage and PIP vary from state to state. For example:
  • In California, Arizona, Illinois, and Virginia, medical payments coverage can pay medical bills for injuries you or your passengers sustained in a covered accident, up to the limit you choose (regardless of who caused the accident).
  • Pennsylvania requires something called first-party benefits for medical expenses; that just means MedPay covers medical costs, funeral costs, lost income, and any potential death benefit for the policyholder and anyone occupying the covered vehicle, at the time of the accident, no matter who’s at fault, up to a limit you choose.
  • In Washington, insurance providers are required to offer PIP to cover lost wages and benefits resulting from injury or death (residents can choose to reject this coverage).
  • MedPay isn’t offered in Oregon, but PIP is required to cover medical expenses (which may include lost wages and/or other benefits) resulting from injury or death, regardless of who’s at fault in an accident.
  • Similar to Oregon, New Jersey is considered a “no-fault” state because, regardless of who caused the accident, PIP is required to cover an array of medical, rehabilitative, and living expense options as well as lost wages.

These are just a few examples of how MedPay and PIP may vary — to find out the requirements where you live and to make sure you’re abiding by all the local laws, visit the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV)’s state by state guide.

So Do You Really Need Medical Payments Coverage and/or PIP?

We get it, all these different types of coverage can be confusing and overwhelming, and it can be hard to know which ones fit your needs, lifestyle, and budget. But there are at least a few guidelines that can help you make the right decision.

The Legal Stuff

As mentioned above, some states require certain forms of insurance, so if you’re a driver, your decision is already made for you (at least it takes the guesswork out of the equation, right?).

Most states offer MedPay, but a handful don’t: Oregon, Minnesota, New York, and North Dakota.

    Medical Payments Coverage Is Required In:
    1. Pennsylvania
    2. Maine
    3. New Hampshire

Things are a little trickier when it comes to PIP. In addition to Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, 15 states use the no-fault system and require drivers to buy PIP:

    Personal Injury Protection Coverage Is Required In:
    1. Delaware
    2. Florida
    3. Hawaii
    4. Kansas
    5. Kentucky
    6. Massachusetts
    7. Michigan
    8. Minnesota
    9. New Jersey
    10. New York
    11. North Dakota
    12. Oregon
    13. Pennsylvania
    14. Texas
    15. Utah

If your state requires PIP coverage, then you can count on your insurance policy to cover your expenses in an accident — even if another driver was at fault — unless certain monetary or verbal “tort thresholds” are met. That means either the resulting expenses would exceed a specific amount or you’d have to suffer a specific type of injury before being able to file a lawsuit. All these rules and regulations vary from state to state, so it’s important to know the laws where you live (check the Department of Motor Vehicles website for more info on the requirements in your neck of the woods).

The Coverage Stuff

When it comes to how much coverage you really need, well, as with a lot of other insurance scenarios, it depends. The cost of your policy will depend on your coverage limit and deductible, as well as your location, age, and other factors. Determining how much you need and can afford takes some personalized planning, so it’s always best to work with a skilled insurance agent who can walk you through the process (you can reach ours at 1.888.242.5204).

One of the biggest things to consider when looking into MedPay is your health insurance. If your health insurance will provide adequate coverage for injuries you suffer after a car accident, and MedPay isn’t required in your state, then you may not need it. If you health insurance does not cover injuries results from car accidents, it’s a good idea to buy medical payments coverage.

On the other end of the spectrum, often times PIP can work in conjunction with your health insurance coverage. To do so, you have to set your health insurance as your primary form of injury coverage after an accident. Which means: your health insurance benefits will pay your medical costs in the event of a car accident that causes you injury. Your Personal Injury Protection coverage would then help with expenses that exceed your health insurance limits. Be sure to consult with your health insurance and car insurance providers before making any decisions.

Remember both MedPay and PIP cover medical bills after an auto accident, but MedPay does not include coverage for lost wages, rehab or other essential services like PIP does. So, if you’re required to have PIP, MedPay may be overkill. However if your state’s limit on PIP is low, MedPay coverage could be a beneficial supplement.

Still Have Questions?

If you find all this info confusing, you’re far from alone. Insurance can be a tough topic to navigate, which is why Metromile offers a comprehensive Help Center to address all the most common frequently asked questions on coverage types, claims, billing, and much, much more. And if your question isn’t answered there, you can get direct, customized guidance from one of Metromile’s licensed agents. Whether you’re just signing up for a new policy, switching providers, or thinking of tacking on a new type of coverage, Metromile’s there to take the guesswork out of the equation. Get a free quote today or call 1.888.242.5204 to talk it out.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.

How Metromile Roadside Assistance Works

If you’ve been a longtime reader of the Metromile blog (hey, thanks!), you’ll remember our previous posts on comprehensive and collision coverage, how to choose the property damage and bodily injury coverage for you, and what to do if you get into an accident with an underinsured or uninsured driver. Today we’re covering a new topic – how the Metromile roadside assistance program works.

From a dead battery to getting locked out of your car, there’s never an instance when Metromile roadside assistance doesn’t come in handy. Why pay a different company to handle roadside assistance when you can add it to your Metromile policy in a snap? Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how roadside assistance works, what’s included, and more. Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and let’s chat.

Do You Need Metromile Roadside Assistance?

First things first – you need to understand how roadside assistance works to determine if it’s the right fit for you! Let’s get into the cost, use cases for roadside assistance, how to call for roadside assistance, and more.

Cost

The cost to add roadside assistance to your policy is about $5 – $7 a month. In addition to towing, our roadside assistance coverage offers flat tire changes, battery jump starts, locksmith services, and emergency gasoline deliveries. All of that protection for the price of a matinee movie ticket!

Use cases

We offer roadside assistance as an optional add-on to comprehensive and collision policies. The coverage includes:

  • Flat tire fixes
  • Locksmith services
  • Emergency gasoline delivery
  • Towing (up to the distance outlined in your contract)

Please note that this coverage only applies to vehicles listed on your policy. If you need to edit the vehicles covered on your policy, you can easily do so through your Metromile online dashboard.

How Metromile Roadside Assistance Works

Once you have Metromile Roadside Assistance, we hope you’ll never have to use it. But if you are ever in a bind like outlined above, we’ll be happy to help.

How to call for roadside assistance

A time may come when you need to call for roadside assistance, and you’ll most likely be stressed, frustrated, and a little on edge. That’s why we make it so easy to do.

  1. Metromile Roadside Assistance on the Metromile App
  2. Your first option for calling roadside assistance is through the Metromile smart driving app. Simply log into the app and tap the ‘Insurance’ icon on the bottom right. Then, tap the ‘Roadside’ icon in the top left and follow the prompts on the screen. The app will take you through questions such as, “Were you in an accident?” and “Will you be waiting at your vehicle for the tow truck to arrive?” to determine what type of assistance you need. Once you complete the prompts, a driver will be dispatched and sent to you as soon as possible.

  3. Metromile Roadside Assistance on your online dashboard
  4. The second option for contacting roadside assistance is through the Metromile online dashboard. From the dashboard, navigate to the ‘Claims’ tab on the top navigation bar. Then, click ‘Request Roadside Assistance’ in the right-hand menu. Follow the prompts so we can determine what type of assistance you need and a driver will be dispatched to help you!

  5. Calling Metromile Roadside Assistance
  6. The third option for calling roadside assistance is, yep, you guessed it – by actually calling! Call us at 1-800-983-3400 and we’ll get a driver out to help you right away.

What happens next?

Sit tight – a dispatch driver is on their way to you. Whether you need a battery jump, a flat tire fixed, or a full-on tow, we’re here to help. Remember that this is all included in your roadside assistance coverage, at no out-of-pocket cost to you! Just another perk of being a Metromile customer.

Still Have Questions?

It’s cool. Here are some of our most-asked questions about roadside assistance.

FAQs

  • Do you need it?
  • Roadside assistance is something that you never think you’ll need, but when the time comes, you won’t take it for granted. If your car is older or unreliable, you’ll especially thank yourself when the unexpected happens.

  • Is it worth it?
  • The price of roadside assistance is equivalent to about two lattes a month. If you love road trips, this might be a smart coverage option for you. For Metromile customers, adding roadside assistance is typically much cheaper than using an external company like AAA. Also, can you really put a price on your peace of mind?

Visit our Help Center

If you still have any lingering questions, be sure to visit the Metromile Help Center. We have answers about roadside assistance, the Metromile Pulse device, how billing works, coverage options, and more.

As we all know, cars can be somewhat unpredictable. If your car decides to break down at the worst possible time, Metromile has got your back! If your car breaks down on the road and you have elected for Metromile roadside assistance coverage, you can submit an online roadside assistance request, file through the Metromile app, or call Metromile roadside assistance at 1-800-983-3400 to request service. Our Metromile roadside assistance team will make arrangements to assist you and also can provide an estimated time of arrival.

TL;DR

Metromile roadside assistance is not just for towing services, although an on­-call tow truck is a convenience that shouldn’t be overlooked – especially if you are a fan of impromptu road trips or have a long daily commute. In addition to towing, our roadside assistance coverage offers flat tire changes, battery jump starts, locksmith services, and emergency gasoline deliveries. The really nice part? All this protection comes for less than the cost of a matinée movie ticket or two lattes – only $5­ – $7 extra dollars a month. One additional thing to note: we may require that you carry comprehensive and collision coverage in order to add roadside assistance to your policy.

If you’re not yet a Metromile customer, be sure to grab a free quote today. If you are a Metromile customer and don’t yet have roadside assistance coverage, what are you waiting for? Add it to your policy now! Be safe out there and see you on the roads.

Car Maintenance for the Low-Mileage Driver

If you’re already a Metromile customer, chances are that you’re a low-mileage driver. Only paying for the miles you drive is just one of the perks of being a Metromile customer and low-mileage driver. Another major perk of being a low-mileage driver? Getting away with less-often car maintenance.

Car-Maintenance-for-the-Low-Mileage-Driver

Are you Low-Mileage?

Wondering if you are a low mileage driver? As a general rule of thumb, you are most likely a low-mileage driver if you are clocking less than 600 miles per month or fall into the following categories:

  • You’re retired and no longer commute to and from work
  • You work from home and/or live close to work
  • You regularly use public transportation
  • You utilize a carpool
  • You have an extra vehicle that doesn’t get driven much

If you fall into one of these camps and realize that you don’t drive your car very often, there are some things you can do to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck when having your car serviced. So, without further ado… here are our best car maintenance tips for the low-mileage driver.

Car Maintenance Tips for Low-Mileage Drivers

  1. First things first: You’ll still want to take the car to your auto repair shop at least every 6 months to monitor the condition of your vehicle. Surprised? Things can go wrong if your car isn’t being driven regularly (yep, even if it’s garaged!).
  2. Only change dirty oil: Despite popular belief, oil only needs to be changed when it’s dirty. Check your oil dipstick once a month to keep tabs on the status of the oil. If it starts to look black (instead of a golden color), it’s time for an oil change.
  3. Drive the car at least once a month: At a minimum, you should be starting up your engine and driving your car on the highway for at least 15 miles once a month. This will ensure all fluids are flowing properly and keep your car running smoothly for years to come.
  4. Check for furry visitors: Car engines make yummy little homes for furry creatures like mice, squirrels, and rats, especially during the colder months. Check the condition of the fuel lines and other rubber components under the car to make sure they are not being chewed or eaten.
  5. Install a carbon eliminator: Add a carbon eliminator to your gas tank yearly to avoid carbon build-up. What is a carbon eliminator, you ask? It removes tough carbon deposits from rings, valves, ports and combustion chambers to improve engine performance, reduce fuel consumption, restore power and extend engine life.
  6. Do the following every six months:

    1. Have your car placed on a lift for a tire inspection. This ensures your safety every time you hop in the car. While your car us up on the lift, check the undercarriage and tires for dry rot, damage, etc.
    2. Check the air filter and ventilation system. In addition to the engine, both the air filter and the ventilation system can make great homes for all sorts of furry creatures.
    3. Check all the fluids. In cars, both the antifreeze and brake fluid deteriorate with age. Checking these every six months ensures that everything is in working order.

Things You Don’t Actually Need to Do

As it turns out, there are things that a low-mileage driver like you just doesn’t need to do very often (or at all). You should just about never need to use nitrogen in your tires (which will save you an extra $5 per tire). You also will never need to flush your transmission fluid, because most car manufacturers now use 100,000-mile (or “lifetime”) fluid. Additionally, modern coolant and antifreeze is also meant to last for the lifetime of the car and will save you about $50 to $100 in changes.

An example of unnecessary car maintenance for the low-mileage driver is changing the engine oil too often. As a car owner, it used to be the norm to schedule in an oil change every 3,000 miles. However, with modern lubricants, most newer engines have recommended oil change intervals of 5,000 to 7,500 miles. If your engine requires full-synthetic motor oil, it might go as far as 15,000 miles between services. For us low-mileage drivers, that means an oil change once every two years or so!

Maybe when you were reading this article, you realized that you might be a low-mileage driver. Awesome! Hopefully, you found these car maintenance tips useful and be sure to grab a free quote from us (if you’re not already a part of the Metromile fam!). If you are already a member of the Metromile fam, share us with all of your friends and family and get $25! As always, stay safe out there and see you on the roads.

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

All Your Pulse Device Questions, Answered

As a disruptor of the traditional insurance industry, it may come as no surprise that we get a lot of questions. We get it – insurance is confusing, technology can be confusing, and people want to know how it all works. Here at Metromile, we’re all about giving the people what they want. The key to pay-per-mile car insurance is the Pulse device; it’s what securely counts your miles so we can bill you appropriately.

All Your Pulse Device Questions, Answered:

Today, we’re taking a deep dive into the Pulse – what it is, what it does, and how we use it to save you hundreds on your car insurance.

A Brief Background on Telematics

Telematics is the technology of sending, receiving, and storing information relating to remote objects, like your car, through telecommunication devices, such as a cell phone, a GPS system, or our Pulse device. Telematics technology can track how many miles you drive and can also measure driving behavior. Telematics is what enables Metromile’s insurance – and without it, pay-per-mile simply would not be possible.

The combination of a GPS system with onboard diagnostic technology can show you a car’s location and the trips the car has taken. Basically, it is the technology used behind the wheel to give the driver information about their car or where they are going utilizing both internet and satellite connectivity. The first form of telematics started with navigation systems, eliminating the need for printed directions and old-fashioned maps. Instead, drivers were able to use the easy navigation system set up in their car. Telematics has since expanded to alerting drivers about their fuel levels (fuel monitoring) and traffic alerts. Telematics technology can even help drivers with roadside assistance and enable satellite radio.

How the Pulse Actually Works

Metromile uses a telematics device called the Pulse: a small electronic gadget that plugs into your car’s diagnostics port and collects data about your driving. This isn’t a new concept: many insurance companies use telematics to track their customers’ habits behind the wheel, such as average speed and instances of hard braking. But Metromile only charges you based on your mileage, not driving behavior. We believe the biggest risk factor for getting into an accident is mileage – if you aren’t on the road, you won’t get into any accidents. As such, our primary rating factor is mileage, not driving behavior.

Metromile gives you insight into your car’s health, location, and driving data – like fuel economy and trip data – through the Metromile Pulse. The Pulse uses telematics technology, which connects to a cellular network, to transfer the data collected from the car into our smart driving app. The app will notify a customer if the Pulse detects an error code from the vehicle. This code could be related to an engine, exhaust, or some other type of sub-system within the vehicle. The customer can tap on the engine code within the app to reveal an overview car that provides a detailed description of the issue along with the severity of the case. The customer can also check the health of their car at any time within the app by tapping on the car avatar on the overview screen to see a list of any codes and previously found codes.

Frequently Asked Questions – Answered

  • What is the Metromile Pulse?
    The Metromile Pulse is a small, wireless device that plugs into your vehicle’s onboard diagnostics port (OBD-II). Once you become a Metromile customer, we will ship a Pulse device to you for you to install in your vehicle. Don’t worry – installation is easy. See the tutorial below on how to install the Pulse in your vehicle.

    Once in place, the Pulse securely counts your miles to determine your total monthly bill. The Pulse works directly with Metromile’s smart driving app, supplying added features like trip tracking, monitoring your vehicle’s health, and a GPS vehicle locator.

  • What does the Pulse do? How does the Pulse work?
    The Pulse is the key to pay-per-mile insurance. The Pulse is able to use your GPS location to count your daily mileage, decode Check Engine Light readings, and act as a GPS device. The Pulse is powered by telematics technology, which sends, receives, and stores your car’s data. You can also make use of this data through Metromile’s smart driving app.
  • Can I get a Pulse device if I’m not a pay-per-mile insurance customer?
    Sadly, no. Currently, we only offer Pulse devices to Metromile pay-per-mile insurance policyholders. You can learn more about pay-per-mile car insurance here.
  • Is it mandatory to plug in the Pulse?
    The Pulse must be plugged into your car at all times so that mileage can be accurately measured and billed. There are exceptions, however. For example, when you get your car serviced, it’s okay to remove the Pulse so that the mechanic can access the OBD-II port. If your Pulse stops transmitting a signal to Metromile at any time, you will receive a notification via email alerting you to plug the Pulse back in.
  • Do I need to plug in the Pulse before my insurance can be effective?
    You are covered as of the effective date of your policy, whether or not your Pulse device is plugged in. As you near your policy effective date, we will ship your Pulse device to you, be sure to plug it in as soon as you receive it. You will receive email reminders once you receive your Pulse device to plug it in to avoid penalty charges.
  • Will the Pulse drain my car’s battery power?
    Not to worry – the Pulse device should have little to no effect on a healthy car battery. Even if your car isn’t being driven, the pulse will not drain a healthy battery.
  • Does the Pulse sync with my smartphone?
    The Pulse operates independently by transmitting data securely through a cellular modem and does not sync with your smartphone. In order to set up the Pulse, plug the device into your OBD-II port and check to see if there is a pulsing red/orange light. That’s it. Once you see the light, the Pulse has been connected and is securely sharing your car’s mileage data with Metromile.

    Even though the Pulse does not sync with your smartphone, Metromile does offer a smart driving app that works in conjunction with the Pulse. The app keeps you up-to-date on your car’s health, tracks your car’s location with GPS features, and sends street sweeping alerts in select cities. It’s just another bonus we love to provide to our loyal customers.

  • Can I turn off location tracking on my Pulse?
    Absolutely. To disable the GPS function on your Pulse, navigate to your online dashboard. Click the small arrow pointing down in the upper right-hand corner next to your account avatar. Go to ‘Account Settings’ and switch ‘Location Services’ from ‘Yes’ to ‘No.’ Please note: this will also disable Metromile’s smart driving app features such as trip tracking and street sweeping notifications.
  • What happens if I unplug the Pulse?
    If you unplug the Pulse for any reason, you will receive alerts to your email associated with your Metromile account asking you to plug the device back in. For all pay-per-mile insurance customers, the Pulse must be plugged into your car at all times so mileage can be accurately measured and billed. We understand that there are times when you may need to unplug the Pulse, like when you get your car serviced. Don’t sweat it — it’s okay to remove the Pulse so that the mechanic can access the port. Be sure to plug the Pulse back in once your service has been completed.
  • If I cancel my insurance policy with Metromile, can I still keep the Pulse?
    If your insurance policy is canceled for any reason, you will need to return the Pulse to Metromile using a provided pre-paid envelope. If we do not receive your Pulse within 30 business days, your pre-authorized debit or credit card on file will be charged a $100 fee.
  • Are there any security vulnerabilities in the Pulse device?
    We take the security of our products and services very seriously and actively work to ensure that our products are safe and provide benefits to our customers.
  • My Pulse was stolen or not delivered. What do I do?
    If your Pulse device was never delivered or stolen please give us call at (888) 244-1702, 6am – 6pm Pacific Time, Monday – Friday to update your shipping information and get a new device mailed out.
  • What do I do with the Pulse device if I sell my car and/or get a new car?
    Please be sure to remove the device before you sell your vehicle. If you are replacing your old vehicle with a new one, you can use the same device from your previous vehicle in your new car. Please either contact us or navigate to your DASHBOARD to add the new vehicle to your policy.
  • What if I rent a vehicle? Do I need to install the device?
    When renting a vehicle you are not required to plug the Metromile Pulse device in, so please leave that device plugged into the vehicle listed on your policy.

Still Have Questions?

Got any lingering questions we didn’t cover? Give us a call at 1.888.311.2909, send us a DM, or Tweet at us. If you haven’t yet downloaded the Metromile smart driving app, you’re missing out on some majorly cool features, such as trip tracking, vehicle diagnostics, parking location, and more! Click here to download for your iPhone, or here to download for your android. If you’re a low-mileage driver who hasn’t made the switch to Metromile yet – what are you waiting for? Grab a quote from us anytime, because it’s always free. Be safe out there and see you on the roads.

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

Road Trips That Can Be Done on The Cheap

If you’ve opted to forego the pricey European summer vacation in favor of a more budget-friendly road trip in the States, you’re already ahead of the game in terms of saving. But while low-cost accommodations and meals will undoubtedly cut costs, diving head-first into a spontaneous cross-country excursion could still result in a nasty surprise in the form of a scary credit card bill. Carefully plotting out your journey from beginning to end will spare you any unpleasant financial surprises, and will take the guesswork out of where to eat, sleep, and sightsee.

Cold-Weather-Driving-Tips

Road Trips That Can Be Done on The Cheap

Here are some of the very best American road trips that can be done on a strict budget:

  1. Big Bear Lake, California The trip from San Francisco to Big Bear is just shy of eight hours—the perfect amount of time to blast your favorite Spotify playlists and still have time for some juicy podcasts. And if you’re in Los Angeles, Big Bear is the ideal quick and easy escape from the big city (it’s about 100 miles northeast of L.A. proper). The mountain resort is a perfect budget-friendly destination, thanks to its comprehensive website full of online coupons for everything from dining and shopping to lodging and recreation. There’s no cost to visit the destination itself, so with a little research, you can tailor-make a stay that’s totally affordable.
  2. Antelope Canyon, Arizona You’ve seen the seemingly endless stream of Instagram pics—now it’s time to get your own stunning selfie. Antelope Canyon is easily accessible from a number of starting points, including Phoenix, AZ, Nevada, or Utah. The epic attraction is also close to the Grand Canyon, so if you’re trying to get the most bang for your buck, this route will pack plenty of action. The canyon is located on Native American Navajo territory and requires a $6 entry fee. You can try your luck with local tour groups at the canyon entrance, or make a reservation ahead of time for under $40 per person.
  3. Florida Keys, Florida A short and sweet trip south of Miami is the two-hour drive from Key West to Key Largo. The quick escape is packed with historic sites like Victorian mansions and museums (the Hemingway Home was built in 1851 and it’s where the iconic writer lived from 1931 to 1940—admission is just $14). And if you’re looking for a nature-based adventure, for just $12, you can see hundreds of butterflies, birds, and tropical plants at the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory.
  4. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana If a 12-mile hike sounds like your idea of the perfect way to cap off a road trip, then consider driving Montana’s Going-to-the-Sun Road. The high-altitude, 50-mile winding route connects the East and West passes of Glacier National Park, and includes access to the Highline Trail, a wildflower-dotted hiking path that’s not for the faint of heart—but totally free to try.
  5. Big Sur, California This central coast California destination is a must for outdoorsy types. It takes less than three hours to drive the 145 miles from San Francisco, and accommodations can be pretty cost-effective since campsites are plentiful (some cost as little as $15 a night, but you’ll have to make advanced reservations). If roughing it isn’t really your thing, you can indulge in some self-care without totally splurging—take a late-night dip in the healing waters at Esalen hot springs for just $35.
  6. Canyon Country, Utah National park connoisseurs will definitely want to make an adventure out of a Southern Utah excursion. Within just 650 miles of desert, you’ll find five national parks that some people consider among the best in the country. Drive from Moab to Grand Junction in just 90 minutes, and you’ll have a chance to see Arches National Park and Canyonlands (both cost just $30 for seven days’ worth of admission per private vehicle).
  7. Great Lakes Seaway Trail, New York and Pennsylvania Get a serious history lesson on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, one of the first American roads to be designated as a National Scenic Byway. The 518-mile route follows along the shores of Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River and includes an astounding 40 state parks. Presque Isle State Park is one worthy stop in particular. The (free!) natural attraction is a 3,200-acre peninsula that features miles of beach.
  8. The Loneliest Road, Nevada Okay, yes, the name is a drag, but you’re bound to have a pretty great time traversing this largely-isolated section of U.S. Highway 50. Because the route follows the Pony Express path, there are actually quite a few must-see attractions on the drive from Carson City to Baker, including hot springs and old mining towns.

Before you hit the road, you’ll need to have a car insurance company that has you covered. If you’re not a Metromile customer, what are you waiting for? Visit metromile.com for a free quote today.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.

How to Cut the Cord with Your Biggest Money-Wasting Bills

I consider myself somewhat of an expert on cutting costs. I don’t like paying for things I don’t use (who does), and I find myself frequently combing through my own finances to find ways to trim down those recurring expenses. However, there are always a few things that slip through the cracks unnoticed, like the quarterly membership to a gym I haven’t been to since I moved, the wine club I swear I unsubscribed to, and the magazines that mysteriously keep getting renewed every year.

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Here at Metromile, we’re all about saving money. We want our customers to only pay their fair share for the things that they use. Your monthly expenses don’t have to wreck your budget, so we’ve rounded up our best tips on cutting down your most expensive bills and making the most from your monthly budget. Buh-bye, overpriced cell phone bill. See ya never, streaming service I used once and then forgot about. Let’s get into it.

The Top Budget-Busting Expenses & How to Cut the Cord

    Cable TV.

    With the abundance of shows and movies available on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, and Showtime, who even watches cable TV anymore? What’s truly crazy is that the average cable bill rings in at about $80/month! Save yourself some major dough and cut the cord with your cable TV bill – because you probably won’t even miss it when it’s gone.

    Cell Phone Plan.

    Besides your rent or your mortgage payment, your cell phone plan might be one of the most expensive bills you’re locked in to pay each month. But it doesn’t have to be. Many cell phone carriers offer less expensive plans with no long-term contracts. Also, apps like Hiatus will negotiate a lower monthly cell phone bill with your provider on your behalf, saving you money and time.

    Car Insurance.

    Wait, are you telling me that you’re a low-mileage driver and still paying the same insurance premium as someone who drives 3x more than you? Hold up, that just isn’t right. If you find yourself driving under 1,000 miles every month, you’re most likely a low-mileage driver who could literally be saving hundreds of dollars every year by switching to Metromile. Same great coverage for less money – what’s not to love?

    Dining out.

    What starts as a dinner here and a drink there can quickly cascade into delivered lunches every day and happy hour every week. Even if you hate cooking, it pays to research some easy-to-make meals. Go grocery shopping and prepare large batches of food to eat throughout the week and never pay for overpriced Seamless delivery again.

    Recurring subscriptions

    I know, I know – getting a package in the mail is fun and exciting. It’s like a present for you, from you, every month! YAY presents! However, when you sign up for subscription services like Birchbox, wine clubs, dog toy boxes, etc., it can really eat away at your bottom line. The next time your subscription package arrives, make note of how many of the items you will actually use/enjoy. You might be surprised to see that most of the time, those subscription boxes are filled with junk that just ends up cluttering your home. Cancel that recurring subscription, save the money, and enjoy a less-cluttered space.

    Prescriptions.

    Depending on your medication, the cost of prescriptions can take a huge bite out of your monthly budget. Consider switching to generic medications instead of brand-name prescriptions – they’re the bio-equivalent of brand-name drugs but can cost 80-85% less. Apps like GoodRx, LowestMed, and BlinkHealth can also help you determine the lowest prices of medications at your nearby pharmacies. Also, if your job offers an FSA or HSA account, utilize that account to stockpile some pre-tax dollars to pay for your prescriptions and doctor’s appointments.

    Shopping & Entertainment.

    Whether retail therapy is your way to chill after a long day at work, or you like catching a new blockbuster every weekend (me), finding ways to trim down these indulgences will always be better for your bottom line. When shopping online, I always do a quick Google search to find promo codes and can usually root one out (Retailmenot is the best promo code aggregator). By signing up for loyalty programs at my local movie theater, I manage to always save on concessions or the price of tickets.

There you have it. Are your wheels already turning thinking about which bill you’re going to slash first? Go forth and cut the cord with your biggest budget-busting bills with confidence. Besides, why should you be paying more than you need to for anything? Nowadays, there are so many ways to cut down your monthly costs. As always, get a quote with Metromile today and find out how much you’ll be saving each month! Be safe out there and see you on the roads.

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

How to Road Trip on Less than $100 A Day

If you’ve already mapped out your budget for that epic upcoming road trip — nice work! You’re one step closer to turning your behind-the-wheel fantasies into reality and activating that out-of-office automatic email reply.

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But if you did all the calculations and discovered you’re a lot more strapped for cash than you realized, you might be on the brink of reconsidering that late summer getaway. Fear not, financially-challenged adventurer: you can still put together a fun, fruitful escape that’s actually affordable. Here are some strategies.

How to Road Trip on Less than $100 A Day

  1. Choose wisely. Sure, landing in a major metropolis might sound like the most epic way to bookend your trip, but big cities like Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco are notoriously expensive (which you might already know if the purpose of your trip is to try and get away from one of those places). Picking less popular points along the journey will inevitably save you money on everything from gas to food to lodging. For example, Napa Valley might call to your wine-loving heart and soul, but if you set your sights about 400 miles south, you’ll find plenty of amazing vino-themed attractions at a far lower rate. Go super simple and plan ahead, and you may be able to score a basic motel room for under $75 a night (leaving the rest for gas and food).
  2. Gas up on the go. Rather than fueling up in a big city (are you seeing a theme here?), stop for gas in small towns, where you’re more likely to save cents on the gallon. And do a quick search of the app store—there are several money-saving tools you can download directly on your phone that will help you locate the cheapest gas in your area. According to GasBuddy, the cheapest gas right now in California is $2.99 per gallon in Turlock. Rates per gallon in bigger cities like San Francisco and San Jose are close to $4. The most common cars in America have gas tanks that hold about 15 gallons, so just stopping at an off-the-beaten-path station could save you about $15 (a full tank at $2.99 is about $44.85 versus $60 at the higher rate).
  3. Find free fun. It’s easy to blow a ton of cash on tourist traps, but if you do some advanced planning, you’ll find there are tons of totally free attractions, landmarks, and activities all throughout the country. Need some inspiration? Here’s a list of must-see landmarks to get you started! And if you don’t see your destination on the list, do some digging to see if local museums offer free days or if you can join a no-cost walking tour.
  4. Shop smart. The simplest way to kiss your dollar bills goodbye is by dining at a chain restaurant, diner, or mini-mart at every stop along the way. It’s totally possible to spend way less than $50 a day on food if you plan ahead and set yourself up for success. Packing snacks before you hit the road is your best option for curbing cravings and staying within your budget. Bring along items like pretzels, rice cakes, nuts, and dried fruit that will quell hunger pangs and keep you satiated between stops. And consider loading up a small cooler with heartier perishable items like hard-boiled eggs and yogurts. Not only can these items keep you going between meals, but they make for great ingredients for an on-the-go breakfast. Prices will of course vary depending on where you stock up on snack staples, but if you hit a major supermarket, you can definitely find a six-pack of yogurt, a jar of peanut butter, and a pack of bagels for well under $20—and that could be breakfast for days! Look for local eateries and avoid chain restaurants, and you can definitely get away with keeping costs low.
  5. Make sure you’re using Metromile. Even if you’re traveling long distances, pay-per-mile insurance makes perfect sense. That’s because Metromile charges a low monthly base rate as well as a pay-per-mile rate, capping customers’ daily mileage costs at 250 miles/day (150 miles/day in New Jersey). So if you hit that magic number, you’re still likely to save big bucks. Your personal rate will vary depending on a number of factors like your age, gender, location, driving history, etc., but if you’re driving less than 10,000 miles a year, there’s a good chance Metromile is the provider for you. And since you’ll be paying that low rate on a monthly basis, the impact on your daily budget will be pretty minimal (though that may not be the case for other traditional insurers).

Any chance you read that and decided it’s time to seriously reconsider your current car insurance provider? Awesome. It’s time to visit www.metromile.com and get your free quote today.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.

How Much Should a New Car Really Cost, and How Do You Know If You Can Afford One?

The time has come. You’re finally ready to trade in your old beater and treat yourself to a brand new car. You have an idea of what kind of car you want to get, but with every car dealership advertising their latest “deal,” it can be easy to get suckered into paying more than you should for your new whip. Because of this, it’s important to do your research and have a solid plan in place before ever stepping through the front door of the dealership.

New Car - How Much Should it Cost?

So: how do you know how much your new car should cost? Then, with all the down payments, warranties, and dealership fees, how to do you if you can actually afford the car you want without blowing your budget? Don’t worry, we’ve got the scoop. Step into your future-new-car negotiation with confidence using our fool-proof tips.

How Much Should a New Car Really Cost, and How Do You Know If You Can Afford One?

    Assess Your Assets

    Before kicking your clunker to the curb, find out if the car has any trade-in value. Most car dealerships will take your old car as a trade-in, which will, in turn, knock the price of your new car down. The ol’ trade-in deal is a bit of a double-edged sword, however, because the car dealership will try to lowball you. Since most people are not in much of a position to negotiate the trade-in value of their current car, they are likely to take the deal presented to them.

    Putting the trade-in deal firmly in the “pro” category is the fact that the dealer does all the paperwork. After you and the dealer settle on an acceptable price, all you have to do is sign the vehicle over to the dealership and be done with it. However – the price you pay for the convenience of being relieved of your vehicle will likely be less money for you than if you sold it yourself. The dealer will not give the full retail value of the vehicle and people are often disappointed by the offers presented to them. To avoid any surprises, be sure to get the Kelley Blue Book® Trade-in value of your vehicle before you step foot in the dealership.

    Your Credit: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

    Next up: addressing how you will be paying for your new vehicle. If you plan on financing your new car (90% of people take this route), your credit score will come into play. See, car dealerships assess how likely it is that you will pay your loan on time every month if you’re likely to skip payments, and more based on your credit history. If your credit score is looking less than stellar (above 700 is considered “good”), you’ll definitely need to factor that into your new potential payments. Your monthly payments may increase if your credit score has been looking a little worse-for-wear.

    Calculate How Much You Can Afford

    There’s no perfect formula to calculate how much you can afford, but our short answer is that your car payment should be no more than 15% of your monthly take-home pay. If you’re leasing, it should be no more than 10%. There are a few online calculators that will help you crunch the numbers:

    Did you know that the average new car payment is $499/month for 68 months? Most car loans come in well over $30,000, which is absurd considering the median household income is around $56,000/year. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to figure out how much you can truly afford to spend on a car. No matter what, don’t leave it up to the car salesman to decide how much you can borrow. Why? Because, according to their facts and figures, your credit and income may qualify you to buy just about anything on the lot.

    In addition to the price of your new vehicle, remember that you’ll also need to cover license plates, insurance, and any additional taxes required by your state. Additionally, you’ll need to pay sales tax on your vehicle, although your lender may roll your taxes into your loan (if you ask).

In Conclusion

The reality is that true affordability is never dictated by lenders or big banks. At the end of the day, only you know how much you can afford to spend on a new car payment and your other bills.

Once you have an idea of how your monthly income and expenses look, you can shop for your new car with confidence. When decide to pull the trigger on your new ride, we’ll be here to take care of all of your car insurance needs! Be sure to grab a free quote from us – and happy car shopping.

Julianne Cronin is a Bay Area freelance writer, content creator, and founder/editor of the women’s lifestyle site, The Wink. You can find her working on her capsule wardrobe, collecting cacti, and trying out the latest beauty products on Instagram

How to Calculate a Daily Road Trip Travel Budget

It’s no secret that vacation planning can be headache-inducing. The logistics, scheduling, and reservations are painful enough to figure out, but then there’s that money issue. If you’ve decided to swap the sky-high cost of airfare for a more affordable car trip, you’re already on the road to big savings (all puns totally intended). But even if you’ve figured out the tricks for snagging sweet hotel deals and cutting corners to save cash, you’ll still be faced with plenty of financial decisions as you drive. The best way to avoid an unpleasant post-trip credit card bill is to set a realistic budget that keeps you in check while leaving room for plenty of fun—this is a vacation, after all.

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Here’s how to calculate a daily road trip allowance:

  1. See what you’re working with. To get the ball rolling, it’s best to know exactly how much money is in the pot, so to speak. To do that, take your monthly income and subtract all your expenses (car insurance, rent, phone bill, cable TV that you sadly won’t be watching while traveling, etc.). Once you have that leftover number, consider that your limit. Sure, you could charge outside your means, but that pretty much defeats the whole “traveling on a budget” concept. Unless you have a special savings fund to pull from, stick to spending within your monthly net income.
  2. Figure out your fueling needs. The most obvious expense you’ll encounter on a regular basis is, of course, gas. If you’re traversing the country, it may be tough to pin down an specific price per gallon, since costs vary from place to place. Even if you can’t land on an exact dollar amount, you can take an educated guess and round up, just to be safe. And if you have no idea where the open road is taking you, just rely on the national average, which is currently $2.85 per gallon.

    Your total for the day will of course depend on your vehicle’s tank and the amount your driving per day. But for clarity’s sake, here’s an example: Some of the most common cars in America have gas tanks that hold about 15 gallons, and get up to 30 miles per gallon on the highway. If you’re driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles one day, that’s about 383 miles, which you should be able to do on one tank of gas (15 x 30 = 450 miles). Based on the national average, that’ll cost you about $43 if that’s all you’re driving in a day, but it’s worth rounding up to $50 to be safe (or more to be extra safe).

    A few more ways to save on gas:

    • Gas Buddy and Gas Guru are two apps that help you locate the cheapest fuel around.
    • Community-based app Waze offers real-time traffic information and gas prices. Be sure to keep your oil fresh, engine tuned, and tires inflated to ensure better mileage, and when you can, fill up outside of big cities, where prices are often way higher.

    And of course, if you’re a Metromile customer, you’ll want to make sure to keep an eye on your daily distance since you have the benefit of pay-per-mile coverage. If you’re worried about accruing a big bill because you’re traveling—relax. Metromile caps the daily mileage costs at 250 miles/day (150 miles/day in New Jersey). But if you’d prefer to stay under that limit, map out your daily route ahead of time, and make sure to pull over once you’ve hit that self-imposed max. Metromile charges a low monthly base rate as well as that pay-per-mile rate, so chances are, you’ll still save big—whether you’re driving all day or limiting your miles—just because you’re a Metromile customer. Congrats!

  3. Factor in accommodations. This will of course vary tremendously depending on whether you’re camping, glamping, or going for full-out luxury (that last one probably shouldn’t be in the cards if you’re trying to save…but you knew that). While the current average daily rate for a U.S. hotel hovers around $127, that amount could fluctuate a ton. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to sidestep exorbitant hotel costs, so take advantage of every tip and trick you can ahead of time!
  4. Eat economically. The simplest way to slip up and spend way more than expected is to fall into a “treat yo’self” mentality when it comes to food. Yes, you’re on vacation, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a steak dinner is in order every night (those four bags of chips at each rest stop may not be a great idea either). If you have no idea how to begin calculating an approximate food allowance, consider allotting $5 a day for breakfast, about $10 for lunch, and $15 to $30 for dinner. That should give you a fair amount of wiggle room without leaving you ravenous. But eating cheap doesn’t have to mean subsisting on an all-junk diet. Some ways to spend less that don’t involve drive-through at every stop:

    • Hit the grocery store. Better yet, before your trip, pay a visit to a bulk store and stock up on big quantities of wholesome car-safe snacks that don’t require refrigeration (think: rice cakes, pretzels, popcorn, etc.). And invest in a cooler to pack nutritious perishables (yogurt, string cheese, hard boiled eggs, etc.). The accessory will pay for itself when you realize how much you’ll be saving on road snacks.
    • Go halfsies. Traveling with family or friends? Consider splitting entrees when you sit down for meals. Portion sizes at most restaurants are way beyond single serving, and since you probably won’t be hauling leftovers with you, order a single meal for two.
    • Eat breakfast before you go out if you can. If you are staying in a hotel, you might just be able to score a free breakfast buffet. And even if that’s not the case, you can still make a pretty hearty morning meal without overspending at a diner. Oatmeal packets are awesome options to keep on hand (just add water!), and fruit, granola bars, and more can set you up with a solid base so you’re not starving by lunchtime.
    • Eat like a local. Talk to people around town and ask where they love to dine. Chances are, it probably won’t be at a chain restaurant. You’re more likely to find a delicious, affordable destination off-the-beaten-path if you do a little research.

If you’re not a Metromile customer, what are you waiting for? Visit metromile.com for a free quote today. Happy trails!

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.

The Best Free Landmarks and Road Trip Destinations

If you’ve done your due diligence planning a wallet-friendly road trip and booking the best hotel deals out there—the last thing you want to do is blow all that budgeting with some pricey sightseeing. While lots of landmarks charge a hefty admission fee, you might be surprised to discover the plethora of totally free destinations all around the country. Here’s our list of some of the very best:

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The Best Free Landmarks and Road Trip Destinations:

  • Fairfield, CA: The Jelly Belly Factory. Does anyone really need a reason to hit up a literal candy factory? Whether you love Sour Cherry, Tutti-Fruitti, or Buttered Popcorn (haters, keep those comments to yourselves!), you’ll leave this road trip stop with a big smile on your face (and a ton of free samples in your mouth).
  • Birmingham, AL: Birmingham Botanical Gardens. For absolutely no cost, you can peruse 67.5 acres of 30 themed gardens at this iconic nature wonderland billed as Alabama’s largest living museum.
  • Boise, ID: Boise River Greenbelt. This 25-mile route is lined with trees and offers pedestrians a super scenic views and a wildlife habitat. Take a driving break and go for a walk or a leisurely bike ride.
  • Princeton, NJ: Princeton University. If your only point of reference for The Garden State is Jersey Shore, it’s time to take in this epic institution and recognize the state’s greatness. Besides, Michelle Obama went here, so that’s reason enough to roam any part of the 500 acres.
  • Bardstown, KY: The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. You may not get as many free samples here as you would at the aforementioned candy factory, but it’s still worth a visit. The museum houses a 50-year collection of rare whiskey-related artifacts and documents dating from pre-Colonial days to post-Prohibition years.
  • Des Moines, IA: The John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. Art lovers, prepare to really geek out. This 4.4 acre park features stunning modern sculptures from a collection of creatives, and guests are encouraged to snap pics and picnic among the works.
  • Omaha, NE: Boys Town Hall of History. This legendary site is the former dining hall built by Father Flanagan in 1939, and displays artifacts like the Best Actor Oscar Spencer Tracy won for his role as Father Flanagan in the movie, Boys Town.
  • Philadelphia, PA: The Liberty Bell. If you drive through Philadelphia and don’t take a selfie with the Liberty Bell…did you ever really drive through it at all? Get a history lesson and see the famous inscription for yourself (“Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof”).
  • Richmond, VA: Maymont. This 100-acre park features Japanese and Italian gardens, mansion, and a petting zoo (those last two come with a suggested donation). If you’d rather not spend any cash, you can still wander the grounds free of charge.
  • Seattle, WA: Pike Place Market. Nothing is more quintessentially Pacific Northwest than this collection of owner-operated bakeries, fish markets, butcher shops, produce stands, specialty food stores, and of course, a year-round farmers market. You might end up dropping serious dough on delicious snacks, but after all that penny pinching, you deserve a treat.

Before you hit the road, make sure you have a car insurer that has your back. Visit metromile.com today to get a free quote.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.