Extreme Weather: Your Guide to Surviving Driving In It

As the seasons change from fall to winter, drivers are likely to encounter any number of obstacles that increase the odds of an accident. In fact, of the average 5,891,000 vehicle crashes each year, approximately 21 percent (almost 1,235,000) are weather-related. From rain and wind to ice, hail, snow, and sleet, extreme weather events inevitably impact road safety.

white vehicle near tall tree at cloudy sky during daytime

Extreme Weather – How to Survive Driving In It

So what’s a commuter to do when driving from point A to point B is the only option? If you have to traverse the roads in treacherous circumstances, it’s important to know how best to navigate sticky situations. Here are Metromile’s best tips for traveling in tricky weather conditions (and if an unfortunate event does occur, make sure you know how to take advantage of Metromile’s roadside assistance program):

Wildfires

If you or someone you know lives in California, then you were undoubtedly well aware of the devastating wildfires that tore through the state earlier this year. But whether the cause is lightning, arson, drought, or climate change, fires can occur anywhere, any time, and can spread far and wide in a second.

So what are you supposed to do if a wildfire suddenly threatens your area? Because the disastrous effects spread so quickly, it’s critical to be prepared. Consider signing up for your community’s warning system so you’ll receive text alerts in case of emergency. Get to know your community’s evacuation plan, and have several possible exit routes in mind.

The most important thing to do in the event of a wildfire, of course, is to evacuate immediately. But jumping in your vehicle amid unpredictable flames can clearly be a scary prospect. According to experts, the most important factor in survival is to leave early — don’t debate your decision to evacuate, just get on the road. Because a blaze can “leapfrog” or “hopscotch” across the ground, there are no guarantees that a car can outrun flames. Streets and highways can become blocked in a matter of seconds, and traffic and visibility can become increasingly worse. Don’t wait until the last minute, and just go.

  • As you drive, roll up your windows, close the air vents, and turn on the AC to minimize smoke inhalation and irritation.
  • Take precaution and drive slowly with your headlights and hazards on, as the air quality may compromise visibility.
  • Experts recommend covering yourself with dry fabric, preferably wool, if possible, to protect your skin.
  • If you see flames approaching as you drive, seek out a parking spot that’s free of debris, and try to find a barrier like a concrete wall to block the fire.
  • Most importantly, do everything you can to remain calm, and don’t, under any circumstances, exit the vehicle.

Flash floods

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, floods are the most widespread and common weather-related natural disasters. Heavy rains, intense ocean waves, melted slow, or dam or levee breaks can cause sudden overflowing surges of water anywhere in the world.

While flash floods can occur spontaneously, the National Weather Service (NWS) issues watches and warnings, intended to give local residents notice that conditions are either favoring a flash flood, or one is imminent. Take heed of these announcements, and evacuate ASAP if necessary.

If you’re behind the wheel while a flash flood is occurring, NWS has a simple but potentially life-saving adage to remember: “turn around don’t drown.” More than half of flood-related drownings occur when a car is driven into hazardous flood water. Rushing water is far more powerful and forceful than many people realize — even just six inches of swiftly moving water can knock a person down, 12 inches can carry away a small car, and two feet can sweep away most vehicles.

  • Unlike wildfires, when it’s safest to stay in your vehicle, flash flooding may necessitate a quick exit. If you’re stuck on a road and water levels are rising fast, get out of the car as fast as you can and move to a higher elevation.
  • Avoid driving through water that an electrical or power line has fallen into, and avoid using your phone unless you have to report severe injuries.
  • As you drive, be extra vigilant of objects traveling downstream that could hit your vehicle.
  • If your brakes become too wet to stop your vehicle, you can try to dry them by gently applying pressure on the brake pedal with your left foot while maintaining speed with your right, but evacuate your vehicle immediately if conditions become too rough.

Earthquakes

Earthquakes are another natural disaster that can occur suddenly, almost anywhere, though they are more likely to occur over fault lines. If you live in an area that’s more likely to be struck by an earthquake, preparation is again key, so having a few escape routes and emergency protocols is essential.

That said, driving during an earthquake is a unique experience because the shake may not be felt from a moving vehicle, and there may not be any visible clues as to what’s going on. The only indication some drivers get during a tremor is that they lose control of their vehicles for no apparent reason.

  • The best thing a driver can do in that situation is to slow down until it’s safe to pull over, as far from trees, power lines, bridges, buildings, or overpasses, as possible.
  • Stay in the vehicle until the quake is over, and keep your seatbelt secured. It’s best to avoid using your telephone and instead tune into the radio for emergency broadcasting updates.
  • Once it’s safe to start driving again, pay extra attention to the potentially damaged road and keep an eye out for stalled vehicles and/or dangerous damage.

Tornadoes

According to FEMA, tornadoes are considered nature’s most violent storms, and can cause widespread devastation and fatalities in a matter of seconds. Every state in the country is at some risk of a tornado, though certain states, like Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, are more prone to them. Tornadoes can strike quickly, with little or no warning, so preparation is key. Keep an eye out for watches and warnings and know the warning signs:

  • A dark, often greenish sky
  • Large hail
  • A large, low cloud that may be rotating
  • A loud roar that may sound like a freight train

If you receive an alert or you spot any of the signs above, be prepared to take shelter. And if you’re already in your car, get out immediately and stay as low to the ground as possible. It’s best to take refuge in a sturdy building, but if there’s no shelter nearby, get far away from your car and find a ditch or other low area where you can lay down on your front side and cover the back of your head. The only situation in which it’s recommended that you stay in your vehicle is if there’s no lower ground than the road you’re already on; in that case, fasten your seatbelt and lower your head below the windows, covering your head with your hands or a blanket.

Hurricanes

Hurricanes typically occur in the Southwest U.S. and the Pacific Coast where heavy rains and floods are possible. These tropical cyclones can cause catastrophic damage with wind speeds exceeding 155 miles per hour and can cause torrential rain, leading to potentially fatal flooding.

  • People who live in areas prone to hurricanes are advised to have a wind-safe room in their homes and to evacuate if directed to do so by local authorities.
  • If you’re on the road when a hurricane hits, stay in your car and seek shelter in a parking garage if you can.
  • Avoid driving through water and keep an eye out for fallen wires and other potential hazards.
  • If your car hydroplanes (starts traveling on the surface of the standing water instead of the road), release the gas slowly and steer straight until your tires are back on the road; don’t slam the brakes or turn the steering wheel — wait until you’ve regained traction before lightly tapping the brakes.

Heavy Rain/Lightning and Thunderstorms

According to the Department of Transportation, nearly half of weather-related crashes occur during rainfall. The best way to avoid a rainy day accident, is, of course, to avoid driving in the rain altogether. But if you absolutely can’t avoid a heavy rain commute, follow these tips:

  • Plan ahead and if possible, pick a route that’s at a higher elevation and less likely to flood.
  • Maintain a clear windshield by cleaning out dead leaves and other debris on a regular basis.
  • Use your headlights, but avoid turning on the high beams — the extra bright light can reflect off the rain and shine right into your eyes.
  • Keep more distance than usual between you and the vehicle ahead.
  • Never use cruise control when driving in heavy rain, as it can cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
  • In the event that your car hydroplanes (i.e. begins to ride on top of the standing water instead of the road surface), immediately take your foot off the gas, but don’t stomp on the brakes. Instead, turn your steering wheel gently in the direction that your car is traveling to help your tires realign, and when you reconnect with the road, pull over and make sure you’re feeling calm and safe enough to keep going.

Black Ice

If you live in or often drive through cold climates, then you may be familiar with black ice, a glaze that forms on the surface of roads due to a light freezing rain or melting/refreezing of snow or rain. The name is a bit of a misnomer since the ice isn’t black, but clear, making it almost invisible. It often forms at night or early in the morning, and is more likely to form on parts of the road that are less traveled on and/or don’t get much sunlight. Though it’s mostly transparent, you can locate black ice in the right lighting conditions if you know what to look for: very shiny, smooth, sheets.

If you’ll be driving in areas prone to black ice, it’s a good idea to practice driving on slippery surfaces like ice in a safe surrounding. In a controlled, safe setting, this kind of practice can prepare you for how to react in an emergency black ice encounter.

  • If you do hit black ice, experts generally recommend that you stay calm and just keep going straight — don’t hit the brakes.
  • If you start to veer to the left or right, gently turn your steering wheel in that direction.
  • Take your foot off the gas pedal and head toward an area that has more traction (like snow or sand).
  • If your car starts to skid, stay calm. If you have anti-lock braking system (ABS), put your foot on the brake with firm pressure and allow the car to pump your brakes for you. If you don’t have ABS, gently pump the brakes yourself. In either case, gently steer in the direction you want to go.

Snow/Blizzard

The best way to prepare for any situation — weather-related or otherwise — is to have an emergency kit in your car that includes essentials like a flashlight, jumper cables, warning flares, and more. Once you’re on the road, if snow starts to fall, drive slowly and increase the distance between you and the vehicle ahead. You’ll also want to be gentle with your brake pedal and don’t use cruise control. If you’re going up hills, avoid tire spinning by gaining momentum before you ascend and then slowing down before you reach the top.

If you find yourself driving through a whiteout, now’s the time to slow way, way down. Your visibility will be severely compromised, so the slower you go, the better. It’s also essential to make your vehicle as visible as possible, so turn on all your headlights and communicate with hand gestures if you can. The best option is to stop your car and wait until the whiteout ends. Just remember to turn on your hazard lights, and if you’re running your car (just for 10 minutes at a time every hour to keep heat), crack the window to avoid a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide.

Have Questions About Insurance Coverage?

Hopefully, you’re now feeling more confident on the road, but if you want to feel more confident in your car insurance company, it’s time to talk with a Metromile agent. If you’re already a customer, one of Metromile’s qualified specialists can help you figure out the best coverage plan for you. And if you’re still debating which carrier is right for you, call 1.888.242.5204 or visit Metromile.com today to get a free quote.

Everything You Need to Know About the Metromile App

Here at Metromile, we’re more than just car insurance; we have made it our mission to make owning a car easier than ever before. Did you know that in addition to all of our awesome coverage such as Comprehensive, PIP/MedPay, Property Damage, and Uninsured/Underinsured, you also get unlimited access to our smart driving app? The Metromile app is packed full of useful features – you can file a claim, view your proof of insurance card, make changes to your policy, call for roadside assistance, and more!

If you were today years old when you found out we have an app or already use it on the reg, there are always new and useful things to discover. Let’s explore the different features and maybe you’ll learn something new!

Everything You Need to Know About the Metromile App

Insurance Features

First up, let’s explore the insurance features of the app and how you can access each of them.

  1. Proof of Insurance
    Your Proof of Insurance card is what you need to display when you get into an accident, get pulled over by a police officer, and when you go into the DMV to register your vehicle. It is required by law to carry proof of insurance in the vehicle you are driving.

    How to Access in the App:

    Navigate to the bottom menu and tap on the ‘Insurance’ icon. Your Proof of Insurance document is in the menu underneath the ‘Start a New Claim’ menu. Tap on ‘Proof of Insurance’ to access your up-to-date Proof of Insurance documents.

  2. File a Claim
    You can easily handle filing a claim directly from the Metromile smart driving app – praise be! Report an accident, file for glass repair, and call for roadside assistance, all without opening a browser.

    How to Access in the App:

    Navigate to the bottom menu and tap on the ‘Insurance’ icon. On the top navigation menu, tap what kind of claim it is – roadside assistance, glass repair, or an accident. Follow the prompts on the screen, which will walk you through the appropriate questions.

  3. Make Changes to Your Policy
    Did you know that you can make changes to your policy from the smart driving app? Such a handy feature! Edit your coverage and add or remove drivers directly through the app – no phone call required. Note: you can make multiple updates, but you’ll only be able to submit changes once per day.

    How to Access in the App:

    Navigate to the bottom menu and tap on the ‘Insurance’ icon. Once you’re on the ‘Insurance’ page, tap on ‘Edit Policy’ in the center menu (fourth option down). For security reasons, the app will have you log into your account again. Once you’re logged in, you’ll be able to see your Metromile dashboard. Tap the three horizontal lines in the upper left-hand corner of the screen and navigate to ‘Policy.’ Scroll down the page and see the changes you’re able to make, such as adding or editing drivers, adding or editing vehicles, adding or editing lienholders, and editing the garaging and mailing addresses.

  4. Roadside Assistance
    Calling for roadside assistance is now as easy as firing up the Metromile smart driving app! You can request a tow, call for assistance changing a flat tire, or request a battery jump and our Metromile roadside service team will be there to assist you every step of the way.

    How to Access in the App:

    Navigate to the bottom menu and tap on the ‘Insurance’ icon. On the top navigation menu, tap ‘Roadside Assistance.’ Follow the prompts on the screen, which will walk you through the appropriate questions to figure out exactly what your needs are. Then sit tight and our Metromile team will dispatch a service technician to help you out.

Billing Features

Another great feature of the Metromile app is the ability to view your monthly charges and keep up-to-date on what your current bill is shaping up to be. This allows you to be strategic in planning your trips and puts you in control of your monthly bill. The app can even tell you how much certain trips cost in fuel! Pretty neat, huh?

  • How to Access in the App
    Handle all your billing needs directly from the Metromile smart driving app by navigating to the ‘Billing’ icon in the bottom menu. By tapping on the icon, the app will open your billing history and include your current monthly charges. To see the cost in fuel, navigate to the ‘Trips’ icon in the bottom menu. Then tap a particular trip and scroll to the bottom of the page. The miles driven, time driving, fuel cost, and estimated MPG will all be displayed. To update your billing information, tap the cog icon in the upper left-hand corner of the screen and navigate to ‘Payment Method.’
Car Features

As a (free!) bonus to all of our Metromile customers who use the smart driving app, we provide car features, such as a vehicle locator (very handy if your car is towed or stolen), street sweeping alerts, a check engine light decoder, and trip tracking and details.

  1. Vehicle Locator
    The vehicle locator feature is on the overview page when you first open the Metromile smart driving app. On the overview page, there is a map with a pin placed where your car is parked. The pin also displays the fuel level in the tank, so you know when it’s time for a fill-up!
  2. Street Sweeping Alerts
    If your car is parked in a street sweeping location, the Metromile app will let you know. Be sure to go into the Settings on your phone and turn on notifications from Metromile – we won’t spam you, we promise! We’ll only notify you if your car is in danger of getting a ticket or towed for being parked in a street sweeping zone. Note that the street sweeping alerts are currently available in the following select cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.
  3. Check Engine Light Decoder
    Save yourself an arm and a leg at the car repair shop by getting a free check engine light reading with the Metromile smart driving app! If your check engine light pops on, the Metromile app will decode it and let you know what the problem is. To view in the app, navigate to the ‘Overview’ tab and scroll to the bottom. Once you know what the issue is, you’ll be able to do your own research on the problem and find a solution, rather than relying on the mercy of the repair shop.
  4. Trip Tracking and Details
    If you’re someone who keeps a close watch on the miles you drive, the trip tracking feature in the Metromile smart driving app will be your new best friend. To see all past trips, navigate to the ‘Trips’ icon in the bottom menu. Tap on a trip to view your route taken, miles driven, time driving, fuel cost, and estimated MPG. We totally geek out on this stuff, and we bet as a Metromile customer, you do too!

Still Have Questions?

No worries, we have the answers. Check out our FAQ page in the Metromile Help Center to see if there’s already an answer to your inquiry. Some of our top FAQs answered below:

Metromile App FAQs
    1. Where can I download the app?
    To download the Metromile app, visit the App Store (iOS users) or Google Play (Android users).
    2. Do I need the app to have Metromile insurance?
    No way, Jose! The Metromile smart driving app is simply a perk that we provide to all our customers at no extra charge. No hard feelings if you don’t want to use it or it’s cluttering up your phone – we’ll always be here in case you change your mind.
    3. Do I need Metromile insurance in order to have the app?
    Yes, the Metromile smart driving app is for Metromile customers only. You (or someone in your family) must be a Metromile customer to use the app.Read to make the switch? Get a quote here.

Now that you’ve seen how great the Metromile app is, become a Metromile customer today by grabbing a free quote! If you’re already a Metromile customer and haven’t downloaded the app yet, what are you waiting for? It’s free! As always, 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 Navigate Thanksgiving Traffic Like a Boss

Thanksgiving brings to mind family, friends, turkey, potatoes, and thanks-giving — of course. But, it can also bring Thanksgiving traffic to mind. Millions of people travel for the holidays and a majority of them travel by car. In fact, last year nearly 51 million Americans contributed to road congestion over the Thanksgiving holiday (a 3.3% increase over the previous year).

The Thanksgiving Traffic Forecast 2018?

Inrix predicts your time on the road could increase by as much as 4X, with 2.5 million more people opting to commute by car for the holiday. That’s 4.8% more people on the roads, for a total of 54.3 million drivers – all with the common goal of gobbling till they wobble.

With all those people on the road, safety is a major concern. While you may be used to cruising around your neighborhood on the daily, adding holiday travelers to the mix is bound to result in much more congestion, traffic, and errors. Luckily, Google, mapped Thanksgiving across the country to help drivers understand when Thanksgiving traffic is worse than normal (i.e. when to stay off the roads).

When To Stay Off The Roads

  1. Don’t even think of hitting the road between 3-4pm on November 21st, unless you enjoy slowly creeping down the highway as a glacial speed.
  2. Trying to hit the stores Friday morning for the Black Friday sales? You should be fine- Black Friday traffic is usually the same as any other Friday, just prepare yourself for that parking lot madness.
  3. Heading home Sunday? So is everyone else! Polarizing times seem to be better; so shoot for early morning or later in the evening.

Overall, the best days to travel will be Thanksgiving Day itself, Friday, or Saturday. Drivers, flyers, and alternative transit users should all expect travel delays on Sunday. While we know avoiding the traffic altogether is the safest option, we also know that holiday travel is usually unavoidable. So, if you can’t beat them, you’ll have to join the masses on the roads.

Tips For Navigating Thanksgiving Traffic Like a Boss

  1. Avoid the busiest travel days: This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s often times easier said than done. The busiest travel days are the Friday before Thanksgiving, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday following Thanksgiving.
  2. The early driver catches the worm: Leave early. Taking data from past holidays, Google has found that leaving by 6 a.m. on Sunday is your best bet. From there on out traffic will only get worse. Headed home? – Leave early; Friday is the best time to head home Thanksgiving traffic free.
  3. When in doubt, Podcast it out: Be prepared for traffic anyways and have a playlist, audiobook or Podcast ready to entertain you while you wait it out. Having something to listen to will keep you calm so you show up to Thanksgiving refreshed not stressed.
  4. Be courteous: Everyone is pretty much on the road for the same reason, to get somewhere to eat and celebrate with loved ones. We could all use a little extra kindness here and there and making the extra effort to be polite to others on the road can make a huge difference.
  5. Please be safe out there, Metromilers: Remember to keep your seatbelts fastened and all your limbs inside the vehicle at all times. Avoid distractions and use a portable navigation system if possible. Be sure to drive at the speed limit and leave that road rage at home for the holiday, no one likes a Scrooge at Thanksgiving.

  6. Be thankful: Traffic is definitely a nuisance and sometimes it’s easier to complain and focus on the negative. But, always remember that the traffic could be worse, or you could not be going to spend the holidays with loved ones. Being thankful for what you have and taking every day one step at a time, and every traffic jam one mile at a time can make that stop-and-go freeway drive that much more bearable.

So this Thanksgiving just remember, planning ahead and being prepared for congestion is the best way to avoid the stress that that traffic can cause. Team Metromile is wishing all you road trippers and commuters a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you do have some big holiday road trips in the future, you are in luck if you are a Metromile pay-per-mile car insurance customer. We have a daily mileage cap so you won’t be charged for over a 250 miles a day (150 in certain states), but still will be totally covered all the way to grandma’s house!

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

How To Prevent Teen Driving Accidents

As a teenager, there’s nothing more exciting than getting your driver’s license. You practice for months, take the test, and BAM – you officially have your freedom! As a parent of a teenager, however, there’s nothing scarier than your teen getting their driver’s license. Not only does your child now have the keys to your car, but you have now been saddled with an extra expense – adding your teen driver to your car insurance policy.

As adults, we all wonder why car insurance costs so much for ourselves – but we all know one thing for sure: why it costs so much for our teen drivers. Teen drivers get into more accidents than any other section of the population. In fact, individuals aged 15 – 20 years make up 6.7% of the total driving population, but are involved in 20% of all crashes and 14% of motor vehicle deaths. With school back in session and a whole new group of teenagers turning 16, we want to arm you with the best tips for preventing accidents in teen drivers.

Some Stats

Teen driver statistics are grim. The overwhelming majority (75%!) of serious teen driver crashes are due to “critical errors,” with three common errors accounting for nearly half of these crashes:

  1. Lack of scanning that is needed to detect and respond to hazards
  2. Going too fast for road conditions
  3. Being distracted by something inside or outside of the vehicle

The majority of newly licensed teen drivers exit the learner’s permit period without basic driving skills mastered, leading to a much higher risk of crashing (compared with more experienced drivers). The most common types of crashes in teen drivers involve left turns, rear-end events, and running off the road.

10% of all teen driving fatalities in 2016 involved distracted driving. Even more disturbing, in crashes involving a distracted teen driver, 51% of fatalities were teens themselves. Of the 451 young drivers killed who had alcohol in their systems, 368 (82%) were at .08 g/dL or higher (past the legal driving limit for adults 21+). Of crashes with available seat belt usage information, 47% of teen drivers killed were unrestrained at the time of the crash.

However, there is a bright spot in all of these grisly stats. 12 states (AZ, CA, VA, MA, NV, IL, NJ, MN, GA, FL, VT, and MO) reduced their teen driver-related fatality rates by more than 50% between 2005 – 2006 and 2009 – 2010.

Top Drivers of Teen Car Accidents

There are more than a few reasons why teens are the most likely group to get into a car accident. Here are the top reasons:

  1. Distracted driving: This includes engaging in any type of activity that takes their eyes and mind off the road, such as using a phone, eating, adjusting the radio, and chatting with passengers.
  2. Driver inexperience: Teens with less than two years of driving experience do not have the know-how to recognize and react to dangerous situations, and crash risk is particularly high during the first months after earning a license because teenagers are excited to hit the roads unsupervised – yikes!
  3. Driving under the influence: In general, teenagers are more prone to engage in dangerous behaviors while driving, and almost 25% of teens report that they are willing to ride with a driver who has been drinking (a very scary thought!). Combined with lack of experience, driving while under the influence of alcohol becomes a common cause of teen car accidents and deaths.
  4. Reckless driving: Male teenagers are especially at risk for being involved in fatal reckless driving accidents. The reckless driving behaviors include making illegal turns or lane changes, tailgating, and street racing.
  5. Driving with teen passengers: Studies have shown that the presence of teen passengers can increase a young driver’s risk of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and engaging in reckless driving through peer pressure.
  6. Texting and driving: Texting and driving has become a major cause of auto accidents involving teens. In addition to texting, using social media while driving creates the same level of distraction for young drivers.

Car Accident Prevention Tips

Now that we’ve laid down the facts, let’s talk about some ways that we can prevent teen car accidents.

  • Develop the right attitude. It is crucial to instill the right attitude towards driving in teenagers. As a parent, make a commitment to yourself and your child to teach them a responsible driving attitude. You owe it to your child, their passengers, and everyone else on the road.
  • Log hours of practice. Take an active role in your child’s practice driving. Make a firm schedule and have them stick to it, and continue this all the way up until their driving exam.
  • Slow and steady. When your teen begins driving, avoid high volumes of fast-moving traffic. Once they become more comfortable behind the wheel, you can gradually introduce more difficult driving situations, such as merging onto a highway or driving in the city.
  • Cell phones are for emergency use only. Be absolutely clear with your teen to make sure that they understand: they must always pull over to the side of the road if they need to use their cell phone in a driving emergency. Otherwise, it could cost them or someone else their life.
  • Stress dangers of drinking and driving. Many teenagers find ways to obtain alcohol before they turn 21 (yes, even your teenager!). Teens may not realize they don’t have to be legally drunk to become risky drivers. Regardless of blood alcohol concentration levels, they are more likely to get into a car accident and become injured or die.

Together, we can reduce these grim teen driver statistics and make the roads a safer place for everyone. If you’re already a Metromile customer and have a new teen driver in your home, add them onto your policy in a snap. If you’re not yet a Metromile customer, consider making the switch or getting a policy for your teenager (who is most likely a low-mileage driver!). The quote is always free, so grab a quote today. 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

How to Save Money On Gas (Hint: It Involves Your Metromile App)

Owning a car is expensive. Between car maintenance, insurance costs, gas, and countless parking tickets (Just us? Oh, okay), it all adds up – quickly. But you know what also adds up quickly? Savings. Here at Metromile, we’re all about saving money on your most expensive, money-wasting bills *ahem traditional car insurance ahem*. Every day we strive to bring you savings on your car insurance, and today we’re giving you our best tips on saving money at the pump.

Spoiler alert: we’re also letting you in on the best ways to utilize your Metromile app to save on gas.

How to Save Money On Gas

Ready? Buckle up and let’s get truckin’ onto the good stuff.

Why Is Gas So Expensive, Anyway?: A Brief History

Back in 1970, gas was only $0.36 per gallon in the United States. If you were around back then, you may remember the most famous and shocking impact on the oil economy: the energy crisis of the 1970s. Prices of gas shot up from $3 to $12 per barrel, and OAPEC (the Organization of Arab Petroleum-Exporting Countries) shattered policy-makers’ assumptions about their reliance on American trade. The average American driver went from paying $0.36 per gallon at the pump in 1970 (which is equivalent to about $1.72 per gallon in today’s dollars) to $1.19 per gallon in 1980 (which is equivalent to about $2.95 per gallon).

However, the worst gas prices in U.S. history came less than a decade ago – topping out at an average of $3.64 per gallon in 2012 (equivalent to $3.80 per gallon today).

Lastly, we cannot forget the very rapid gas price increase preceding the 2009 recession. Even America’s most erratic price jumps from past decades pale in comparison to the crazy jumps from 2002 to 2008, when gas prices climbed steadily until the recession. While Lehman Brothers and the housing market crash were much to blame for the collapse, the spike in gas prices didn’t help.

Tips For Avoiding Pain at the Pump

  1. Drive less. If you’re a Metromile customer, chances are that you’re already a low-mileage driver. If you haven’t joined yet, consider reducing your miles driven for one month by taking public transportation, using ride-sharing apps, or carpooling. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save on gas by simply filling up less often!
  2. Turn off the engine. If you’re picking someone up, turn off the engine while you wait for them. The same thing goes if you’re stuck in traffic and haven’t moved in a few minutes, or you’re waiting at a drive-thru. You’d be surprised at how far you can stretch a tank of gas just by being cognizant of how long you’re idling the engine. Idling is both a major waste of gasoline and a top contributor to pollution in the atmosphere. By turning your engine off, it’s a win-win for both your wallet and the environment!
  3. Use the Metromile app to track your routes. If there’s a particular route you drive daily or weekly, check out your past trips in the Metromile app to see if there’s a faster or more efficient route to take. Even if it’s only by a little bit, every mile counts – and a mile saved is a mile earned!
  4. Figure out the best way to pay. Many gas stations advertise a cheaper price per gallon if you pay with cash. This is because it costs the station less to process a cash transaction and they want to encourage more people to pay with cash instead of cards. Depending how much gas you’re getting, you may end up saving a few dollars per fill-up if you pay with ca$h money!
  5. Don’t drive aggressively. Aggressive driving (rapid acceleration, high cruising speed and braking sharply rather than coasting) is by far the biggest culprit in gas-guzzling. Using a sedan, an SUV, and a truck, a test showed that motorists who adopted a “calm,” non-aggressive driving style could save 33% to 38% on gas. That’s a huge cost savings!
  6. Use your smartphone. Using apps like GasBuddy and Gas Guru, you are able to find the cheapest gas in your area. You can also use the Maps app on your smartphone to check the traffic before you leave the house to avoid wasting gas while idling in traffic. Also, you can use the Metromile app to track and optimize your trips!

Hopefully, our tips will help save you some coin next time you’re filling up at the pump! To all our customers: if you haven’t downloaded the Metromile app, you’re missing out on some seriously awesome gas-saving opportunities! If you’re a low-mileage driver who hasn’t made the switch 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

What the F-NOL?

If you’ve been reading the Metromile blog for a while (hey, thanks!), then you’re probably a veritable expert in all things coverage and claims related. You can likely school your friends and family on what “comprehensive” coverage really means, and it’s a safe bet you know what to do in the event of a minor fender bender. Now that you’ve mastered the basics, you’re ready to graduate to the next level and learn the answer to an age-old question: what the F-NOL?

What is F-NOL?

Let’s break it down: a FNOL is a First Notice of Loss or First Notification of Loss. The “loss” in this instance refers to the insured product, which—unfortunately—is your vehicle. You may not even know it, but if you’ve ever contacted your insurance provider about a theft, loss, or damage, you’ve filed an FNOL.

The FNOL is a critical piece of the post-accident/incident process, both for you and your insurance company. In some cases, it’s a requisite first step in the formal claim process because it alerts your insurer to the situation and it gives you the opportunity to quickly and accurately report the details of the theft or destruction. But let’s be honest—most of are anything but cool, calm, and collected following a robbery, accident, or vandalism. You’ll want to get going on your FNOL as soon as possible, but you’ll likely want and need a system that’s simple to navigate and won’t cause your already-elevated stress levels to skyrocket.

Metromile’s First Notice of Loss

Luckily, some insurance companies have evolved to offer a simpler, streamlined, super-convenient FNOL process. Metromile is leading the pack. Rather than relying on an antiquated call center system to address your immediate questions and concerns, Metromile has AVA, a smart, savvy AI claims system who can accurately verify claims in seconds. Using Metromile Pulse sensor data, AVA is able to reconstruct the scene of an accident to verify claim details. Once claims are verified, she can also help process payments, locate local repair shops, schedule rental cars, and more.

Thanks to AVA’s impressive intelligence, she’s able to guide you through the FNOL process, one step at a time. Unlike other insurance companies that require customers to figure out the FNOL process solo, Metromile provides support from beginning to end. While Metromile drivers are welcome to submit FNOLs over the phone, they also have the options of filing online or through the Metromile app (because in stressful times, an array of easy options is great). And as AVA gets smarter, she may one day even be able to submit FNOLs for drivers in their absence, meaning she’d kick off your claims process even if you weren’t present for the theft or damage.

Until then, AVA and everyone behind the scenes at Metromile has your back and is here to take the WTF out of FNOLs and more. Need more info? Visit the Metromile Help Center to get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. And if you’re ready to get a personalized quote, talk to a qualified agent by calling 1.888.242.5204. Already a customer? Awesome! How about spreading the love? Refer a friend, and you’ll receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card when they get their verified 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.

What To Do If You Get into An Accident With an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver

It’s not exactly a fun way to pass the time, but do you ever think about what you’d do in the event of an accident? If you were the one responsible (hey, it happens to the best of us), you probably know the steps to take to get the claims process going. And if you’re involved in an accident caused by another party, you’ll want to get up to speed on filing a claim with the other driver’s insurer. But in both those instances, someone’s insurer is there to cover costs and facilitate the process. So what happens if you’re hit by a driver who doesn’t have adequate coverage—or worse yet, doesn’t have coverage at all? That’s where uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage comes into the equation.

What To Do If You Get into An Accident With an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver

What is Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

Just like its name suggests, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (sometimes called UM/UIM) exists to protect you in case another driver hits you and doesn’t have the coverage to pay up for costs and damages. This type of coverage also comes in handy in case of a hit-and-run crash — if another driver hits you and takes off, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage will ensure you’re not left on the hook for all of your expenses. Whether you have medical bills, car repair payments, or both, this type of coverage will prevent you from having to pay for everything out-of-pocket.

Even if the at-fault driver in an accident has coverage, it may not be enough to cover your costs. Their liability limits may be too low to pay for your bills, or their limits may be less than or equal to your UM/UIM coverage limit. In both those scenarios, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can be a lifesaver.

While this type of coverage may sound like a no-brainer-must-have addition to your policy, not all states make it mandatory. In fact, only 21 states and the District of Columbia require uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage by law. And if your state doesn’t mandate it, and you’ve never had a reason to know about it, you might wind up with an unpleasant surprise in the unfortunate event of an accident — after all, according to the Insurance Information Institute, one in eight drivers is uninsured.

The Different Types of UM Coverage

Now that you understand the logic behind UM/UIM coverage, it’s time to get familiar with the two distinct types of UM that exist:

  1. Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI):
  2. UMBI can help cover the costs of medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering for people who are protected under your policy (like family members in other cars or passengers in your insured car) if they’re involved in an accident caused by an uninsured driver.

  3. Uninsured Motorist Property Damage (UMPD):
  4. UMPD can help pay for the damage done to your vehicle if you’re hit by an identifiable uninsured driver (though it’s not always applicable to hit-and-runs). This type of coverage isn’t available in all states, and if it is available in your state, it may not cover hit-and-runs, so be sure to talk to a licensed agent about your specific location and situation.

Some states require drivers to have UMBI and/or UMPD:

  • UMBI coverage is required in: Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Washington D.C., West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
  • UMPD coverage is required in: Maryland, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. It’s also required in Alaska, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington, but drivers are allowed to reject it if they submit a written request.

Coverage limits (the total amount an insurance company will pay for a single accident or claim) vary greatly by the insurer and state. There are also different coverage minimums in states where UMBI and/or UMPD are required. For example, in California, the minimum for UMBI coverage is $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident, and the minimum for UMPD coverage is
$3,500. It’s important to talk to a licensed agent so you know the limits in your specific state.

Do You Really Need UM/UIM Coverage?

Of course, tacking on UM/UIM coverage does come with an added cost. So if you’re on a tight budget, how do you decide if it’s right for you? It might be worth considering the following factors:

  1. The number of uninsured drivers in your specific state (live in Mississippi, New Mexico, Michigan, Tennessee, or Florida? You’ll want to check out those stats).
  2. The minimum liability coverage your state requires is low, and your vehicle is worth a lot.
  3. The thought of being involved in a hit-and run (even as a pedestrian, since that’s included) keeps you up at night.

So what is the added cost of UM/UIM coverage? Like pretty much everything in the world of insurance costs, it depends. A lot of pieces of info are factored into the cost of your coverage, like your age and location, claims history, chosen limits, and the type of vehicle you drive. In general though, you can expect UM/UIM coverage to make up about 5-10 percent of the total cost of your premium.

Still Have Questions?

This stuff can get confusing, so if you still have questions, it’s totally understandable. And it’s likely other drivers have those questions too — that’s why Metromile has a Help Center that houses some of the most frequently asked questions, including those about UM/UIM coverage. If you can’t find the answers you’re looking for there, no problem. The licensed agents at Metromiles are available to answer your questions, provide a free quote, and address any concerns you may have. If you’re an existing customer, call 1.888.311.2909, and if you’re looking to start a new policy, call 1.888.242.5204. No matter whether you’re new to the Metromile family or just looking to better understand your policy, visit www.metromile.com and find out why having the right kind of coverage for your life and budget matters.

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.