Uber Driver Partners: A Reliable Solution for New California Law

 

At Metromile we strive to make car ownership affordable and low-maintenance for everyone. This includes rideshare drivers, which is why we wanted to share an update on how we are continuing to give Uber driver partners peace of mind.

As of today, Assembly Bill 2293 goes into effect in California. It helps clarify gray areas regarding insurance coverage during the various phases that a rideshare driver goes through during a day of driving.

Uber driver insurance - how it works

The law goes a long way to answer who is responsible at what time, and innovation with transportation network companies (TNCs) has finally impacted legislation. A new ‘endorsement’ (a change in what a policy covers or doesn’t cover) now exists that extends coverage for a personal auto insurance policy to recognize TNC use. A personal auto policy recognizes that a driver uses his car only for personal reasons – driving to school or work, and not making money for livery or delivering goods. Only two personal auto insurance providers have received approval today in California for this rideshare endorsement. Metromile (underwritten by NGIC) is proud to have been the first with this approval.

Drivers still need personal auto insurance to cover undisputed ‘Personal’ time – when the Uber app is off and someone is driving as they normally do for personal reasons.

What’s different now? (more…)

The Ultimate Guide to Road Tripping

Grab your friends and kick off the summer solstice with a road trip to your favorite warm weather destination. Whether the drive is 30 minutes or 3 hours, the transit from your couch to a beach blanket should never be cumbersome. To help you get to your destination with ease, we’ve compiled our favorite road-tripping tips into one handy guide. And if you aren’t sure of your actual destination, we’ve got tips for that too!

Road Trip Guide

 

Get your car road trip ready
A healthy car is definitely a prerequisite for any open road adventure. To prepare for a smooth drive, there are a few quick checks you should do. First, make sure there isn’t anything weird going on with your tires (even your spare). Look for any weird bulges or uneven wear, and use a tire gauge to measure pressure. Next, check out a site like GasBuddy to identify the cheapest and easiest place to fill up on gas, so you aren’t stuck paying top prices. You should also make sure your washer fluid isn’t running low because no one likes driving with a bug-laden windshield!

It’s also important that your mechanic is doing a more comprehensive check-up throughout the year since your brakes, cooling system, transmission service, oil levels and exhaust system can all deteriorate over time. If you want more details about getting your car road trip ready, check out this post.

Load up your smartphone
Our friends at The Zebra compiled a great list of the best apps to download before hitting the road. We don’t want to encourage distracted driving, so enlist your passengers to man the phone or wait until your car is parked.

  • Waze: This community-driven app gathers map data and traffic information from other users, such as accidents, police traps, and traffic jams, and uses it to estimate the best possible route.
  • Inroute: If you see your summer road trip as more of a journey through various attractions, Inroute helps you find the best possible route based on “weather, elevation, curviness, daylight and places along the route”.
  • Songza: Search for music based on the time of day, your current mood, or favorite genre. Songza is completely free, and even has thousands of original playlists handmade by music experts.

You can also download the Metromile driving app, which gives important insights into your daily driving and car health! (more…)

We’re Heading East: Per-Mile Insurance Launches in Virginia

We are so excited to announce that we are expanding our service to the East Coast! First stop: Virginia. This is the first time per-mile insurance is being offered in the state, so we are eager to provide car owners with a more fair and affordable insurance.

per-mile insurance Virginia

Virginia has great public transportation options, and many of its cities are easily accessible on foot, so we anticipate there to be quite a few people (read: tons) that will save money with our per-mile insurance. In fact, according to a recent study we conducted, the majority of Virginia drivers (67%) commute less than 100 miles per week.

We also found that a big pain point is the amount of time spent in cars due to traffic and congestion. Our pay-per-mile insurance offering is a great way for drivers to become more aware of how many miles they drive. We’re seeing a trend of folks actually driving less as a result, which ultimately means less cars on the road. And of course, everyone appreciates saving money!

We will also be expanding availability for the new Metromile Tag to Virginia, so people not quite ready to make the switch to per-mile insurance can take a free test drive. The Tag powers our smart driving app, which gives important insights into daily mileage, driving habits, car location, and more.

This is only the first stop on the road to East Coast expansion. So what’s next on our map? Sign up for our newsletter to stay in touch or add yourself to our waitlist!

What’s The Deal with iBeacon Technology?

 

You may have heard us tout the revolutionary use of iBeacon technology in our new Metromile Tag. You also may have heard of other innovative examples in the news lately. So what exactly is iBeacon technology and how is it being used?

Apple first introduced the iBeacon application programming interface (API) in 2013. With this API, hardware devices (aka “beacons”) emit a unique signal that can be picked up by a smartphone when close by, which then triggers apps to perform certain actions. iBeacon uses a low-energy Bluetooth signal, but it is different than traditional Bluetooth technology where a device and phone sync with each other. The beacon continually sends pings, apps on your phone listen for these signals, and when your phone comes into range the apps will respond to the pings. It’s similar to GPS-based “geo push” technology, but with more precision and less battery usage. Most beacon devices are typically small, low-energy, and powered by coin-cell batteries, making them long-lasting and easy to place anywhere.

iBeacon_Metromile_Tag

As Apple explains, “iBeacon opens a new world of possibilities for location awareness, and countless opportunities for interactivity between iOS devices and iBeacon hardware.” Marketing lingo aside, iBeacon technology is a simple and effective way of triggering location-based actions. A popular use is for retailers wanting to send location-specific messaging. Assuming you have the retailer’s app installed, if you pass a beacon in the shop, a special offer could pop up on your phone (if you’ve opted for notifications). Virgin Atlantic used iBeacon location-aware technology to send messages to customers with electronic boarding passes in London’s Heathrow airport. Target uses beacon technology in their Cartwheel app to offer mobile-only deals to customers shopping in the store. Even McDonald’s has been testing iBeacon functionality in their restaurants. In all these scenarios, the beacon remains at a fixed location, and an action happens when an app user happens to pass by.

At Metromile, we use iBeacon technology in a unique way: to enable our Tag device to send data to our smart driving app whenever you are behind the wheel. After initial setup, every time you are in your car the Tag will ping the Metromile app, thus enabling the delivery of insights into your daily driving. Just make sure the app is running and Bluetooth is on! The app even remembers where you parked, and can send street sweeping alerts in SF and Chicago. Want to try this technology out for yourself? Sign up here to receive a free Metromile Tag*.
*Note: The Metromile Tag is available in CA, WA, OR and IL and in cars built after 1996. Per-mile insurance customers still must use the Metromile Pulse, which plugs into the car’s OBD-II port.

3 Great Apps for Your Summer Road Trip

 

The following is a guest post from Jaime Netzer, editor of The Zebra’s Quoted blog.

Summer road trip season is officially upon us. This year, AAA estimated that 37.2 million Americans kicked off their Memorial Day weekend with a road trip. But traveling today doesn’t have to mean long games of license plate bingo and boredom, or hoping for the next town’s gas to be a bit cheaper—there are a slew of apps available to change all that. If you want to make your summer road trip as tech-savvy as it is fun, we’ve got three apps to download—stat.

 

Road Trip Driving Apps

 

Three Great Travel Apps

1. Waze
Quoted first wrote about Waze back in December, around holiday road trip time: “The community-driven app gathers complementary map data and traffic information from other users and uses it to estimate your best possible route. Waze users can report everything from accidents, traffic jams, speed and police traps, even the cheapest gas prices. As a result, you no longer have to rely solely on the red line—instead, you can lean on your fellow drivers.” Waze even provides alerts to locations of police along the way, so you can mind your speed when it counts most. And maybe the best news from Waze yet? Arnorld Schwarzenegger’s Terminator will soon command drivers in the app, timed with an upcoming film release. Think, “Turn left if you want to live.”

2. Inroute
Inroute is an intelligent route and road trip planner—it helps you find the best possible route based on “weather, elevation, curviness, daylight and places along the route.” Especially if you’re seeing your summer road trip as more of a journey through places rather than as direct-a-line-as-possible *to* a place, Inroute might be exactly what you need. Also, by knowing what to expect beforehand, you’ll feel both safer and better prepared for what lies ahead. Features include charts of sunrise and sunset times, the ability to search for gas, hotels, campgrounds, or places to eat close to a route, and the ability to easily reorder “waypoints”, either automatically, for the fastest route, or manually.

3. Songza
When you can’t handle yet another song on the Taylor Swift Pandora station, switch the tunes over to Songza and prepare to be delightfully surprised. You can search for music using time of day, allowing the app to play personal music concierge, or by mood or genre. The best part? Songza is completely free, and there are no advertisements, either. Found the perfect playlist? Save it and then share with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, or email. Songza has thousands of original playlists handmade by music experts, so you no longer have to play backseat DJ—there’s an app for that.

Note from Metromile: We also recommend using Metromile’s smart driving app! It gives important insights into your daily driving and car health. If you aren’t already a per-mile insurance customer you can sign up here to receive a free Metromile Tag*
*Note: The Metromile Tag is available in CA, WA, OR and IL and in cars built after 1996. Per-mile insurance customers still must use the Metromile Pulse, which plugs into the car’s OBD-II port.

Lane Courtesy Month: Why You Should Care

 

At first glance, Lane Courtesy Month might seem like a trivial occasion, joining the likes of National Accordion Awareness Month and Turkey Lovers Month (also in June). We aren’t saying that you have to care about all of these “months”, but we are saying that certain occasions might deserve more attention than what they first suggest. Lane Courtesy Month is one of them.

 

Smart Driving - Lane Courtesy

 

So what exactly is “lane courtesy”? It isn’t letting someone cut in front of you in the cash-only toll booth lane. Lane courtesy is defined as the practice of yielding to or moving over for faster-moving traffic. It’s an often undervalued yet important aspect of smart driving. There’s a good chance you will get a ticket for driving 85 MPH on a road with a 65 MPH speed limit, but did you know you could also be cited for driving too slow in the left lane? Every state has a law restricting left lane usage and police are starting to crack down. It might sound like an inconsequential offense, but hogging the farthest left lane can lead to unnecessary traffic and accidents.

The reason why it is so important to leave the left lane clear is because it primarily used for passing, and if there are too many cars or a car is going too slow, it makes it much more dangerous to do so. In fact, 10% of all highway accidents are caused by changing lanes. It’s fine to use the left lane to pass a car, but once you do, move back over to the right as soon as it is clear. Even if you think you are driving at the correct speed limit, or above it, chances are there is still someone that’s going faster and wants to pass you.

A benefit of practicing lane courtesy is that you could get to your destination faster. Smooth flowing traffic means that highway capacity is optimized, which means less traffic. It’s also better for gas mileage. Vehicles use the most fuel when accelerating, so if you aren’t lane hopping, there will be less volatility and less gas usage. We can’t say road rage will totally diminish, but hopefully there will be fewer angry drivers!

If you want to continue on your smart driving endeavors, try downloading the Metromile driving app. It helps organize and optimize your trips by allowing you to see how your speed varies on each trip, how much you spend on gas and how long your drive is. It’s free to download, and you can learn more here!

The New Grad Car Conundrum

 

Graduation is an exciting and significant milestone, but starting a new chapter in life can mean some big financial decisions ahead. Whether it is you or a family member that is sporting the cap and gown, purchasing a car is a tempting next step for a new grad. However, with newly acquired freedom comes newly acquired responsibilities. What car insurance should be purchased now that the parentals might be stepping back? Should a car be bought new or used? Leased or paid for in full?

 

New Grad, New Car Insurance

 

Before you decide if purchasing a car is a good idea, assess your projected monthly income. 50% of millennials say they are living paycheck-to-paycheck and unable to save for the future, which is a slightly scary stat. Even more concerning is the 40% that say they feel overwhelmed by their debt. Most financial advisors would suggest getting your finances in check before adding another expense to the list. If the city you plan to live in has public transportation, try that out before you decide to buy a car. Your new job might even provide commuter benefits! You could also check out local carpooling programs, or car sharing services such as Getaround. And if your commute isn’t far, try investing in a less-expensive vehicle like a bike or scooter.

If you decide that purchasing a car is the right choice, buying used is probably your most economical option. Our friends at The Zebra even compiled a list of the top 10 used cars that give you a “bang for your buck”. Once you’ve found the perfect car, it’s usually better to pay in full since you won’t pay interest, but sometimes you can luck out with a favorable interest rate.

Time to tackle the next big decision: choosing your new car insurance. We are slightly biased in this area, but if you are going to be driving less than 10,000 miles a year (around 200 each week), you could find significant savings with pay-per-mile insurance. If you plan to use your car primarily for road trips, family visits or grocery runs on the weekends, per-mile insurance is for you. Our low-mileage customers are saving an average of $500 per year!

If you aren’t ready for per-mile insurance, you can also take a test-drive with our free driving app*. We will send you the new Metromile Tag device, which connects to our app and gives you insight into your daily driving, sends street sweeping alerts (SF and Chicago) and even helps you remember where you parked. All very helpful features for a new car owner!
*Currently available in CA, OR, WA, IL and for cars built in 1996 and later

We’ll be posting more advice for new car owners in the coming months, so make sure to subscribe to our newsletter. In the meantime, you can check out these other helpful articles:

Car Ownership 101
Keeping a Healthy Car
How to Park: West Coast Edition

Introducing the Metromile Tag

In our efforts to make car ownership as easy and affordable as possible, we are excited to introduce the Metromile Tag! While the beta is currently available in eligible states and vehicles*, it will soon become available for all cars. The Tag wirelessly connects to smartphones via iBeacon technology and can be stored conveniently in the glove box, cup holder, or center console of the car.

*Tag is currently available in CA, OR, WA, IL and in cars built in 1996 and later

Metromile Tag

When the Tag detects the user’s phone it will start delivering useful driving information using the exact same app as our per-mile insurance customers. Features include our street sweeping alerts (currently in SF and Chicago), a car locator, driving stats, and more.* For those not ready for per-mile insurance, the Tag is the perfect way to take a free test drive to see how much they could save. Now everyone can have an easier time managing the daily hassles of owning a car.
*Note that our car health feature will not be available for Tag users since it requires the OBD-II port.

Our per-mile insurance customers will still receive the device that plugs into the OBD-II port, which we are now calling the Metromile Pulse (formerly the Metronome). Per-mile insurance customers have additional features such as the status of their car’s health, the ability to contact one of our on-staff mechanics, and even finding a stolen car. For current customers, there is no need to request a new device, but those interested in using a Tag in an another car will need to set up an additional account.

To make this new launch as seamless as possible, our current app users that are not per-mile insurance customers will be grandfathered into our program and can keep their Pulse (OBD-II device formerly known as the Metronome). If anything should happen, we’ll replace it with a new Metromile Pulse if needed. We still encourage everyone to share our app with their friends, just note that moving forward they will receive the Tag instead of the Pulse.

If you have additional questions about the Tag or the Pulse you can check out our FAQs. This is only the beginning – we have so many great new app features that we can’t wait to share in the coming months. Have suggestions for something that could make the app experience even more helpful? Send us a tweet @Metromile or email us at customerservice@metromile.com.

Maintenance Monday: Roadside Safety Tips

 

Maintenance Monday

 

Summer is quickly approaching and chances are a road trip (or five) is in your near future. However, with increased travel comes increased chances for car trouble. Whether it’s a flat tire, breakdown, or an accident, there’s a good chance you’ll experience some sort of roadside emergency in your lifetime. And if this happens on a busy street or freeway where you’ll have to contend with heavy traffic, a bad situation can quickly become worse.

If you have an emergency while driving, your personal safety should be your first priority. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are roughly 4,000 pedestrian fatalities every year, accounting for 12% of all traffic fatalities and 59,000 pedestrian injuries from roadway crashes. Practicing smart roadside safety can help prevent you from becoming an unfortunate statistic. Here are my safety tips to help prevent one accident from becoming two.

Move to Safety
Regardless of the situation, the first thing you must do is get your vehicle to a safe spot away from traffic. If you’ve been in an accident, motion for the other driver to do the same before assessing the damage. Even if you have a tire blowout or a flat, move out of the way before attempting a repair, even if it means damaging your car even further. The cost of a new tire could be minimal compared to any additional harm or damage that could occur.

Make the Call
Once you’ve moved to a safe location, stay in your car and call for help. If something is wrong with your car, call a tow truck or your insurance provider’s roadside assistance. If you’ve been involved in an accident, call the police and file a report, no matter how big or severe the accident is. The police will help sort everything out and determine who is responsible for what damages. If someone is injured, you should also call for emergency services immediately. And if you break down in a dangerous area, make sure to keep your doors locked until help arrives.

Stay Visible
Carry flags, flares, or reflective triangles in your vehicle so you can mark your location in the event of an emergency. You should also turn on your hazard lights so that other drivers have advanced warning of a problem ahead. Even if it’s a bright sunny day, it’s still important to alert other cars that something is wrong.

These are just a few simple things that can reduce the possibilities of turning a bad situation worse. If you do get involved in an accident as a Metromile customer, our customer service advocates are available to help you throughout the claims process. We’ll be posting more about what to expect through the claims process after an accident, so subscribe to our newsletter if you don’t want to miss out!

Ask a Customer Experience Expert: Car Ownership 101

 

The following is a post from Isabel Siragusa, a Customer Experience Expert at Metromile.

Dealing with car trouble is never easy. It’s costly, inconvenient, and hard to know who to trust with fixing your car. As a Customer Experience Expert at Metromile and a car owner in a busy city like San Francisco, I feel your pain. I may talk car insurance every day, but when I first started, I realized I knew very little about how my own car works. Since Metromile is all about making car ownership as simple and affordable as possible, I’ve compiled a list of things that I think every car owner should know.

car maintenance

 

Do your homework. Every car works a little differently. Whether you are trying to figure out how much air to put in your tires or where to check your oil, it’s worth doing a little research before calling for help. Many answers can be found with a quick internet search or in your owner’s manual. You might even save some money because mechanics sometimes charge extra if you don’t know what you are talking about. And if you have the Metromile driving app, you can diagnose car troubles right from your smartphone.

Geography matters. According to my mechanic, if you’re living in San Francisco, the hills are going to cut the lifespan of your brakes in half. And if you are in Chicago, cold weather could put a lot of pressure on your car which means your tires and battery won’t last as long. If you can, park the front of your car near to a building to keep it warm.

Know the basics. There are a few car maintenance tips that all owners should know:

Dealing with flat tires. Don’t freak out if your tire looks like it might be losing air, but definitely deal with it or you’ll end up spending more on gas. If you can drive, go to the nearest gas station. Note that tire pressure readers at gas stations are generally inaccurate, so bring your own gauge (Metromile will even send you one for free). And if you’ve driven more than a few miles, the reading might be high because driving increases air pressure. After filling up the tire, check it again in a few hours. If it’s decreasing slowly, find a local tire store. If it’s in the 20s or lower, call a tow truck.

Even if you don’t have a flat, it’s good to still your tires properly inflated. Most cars have an optimal PSI between 30 and 40. If you look on the side of your tire, you’ll find the maximum PSI. Don’t go over that number and ideally stay somewhere slightly below. Make sure all four tires have the same amount of air in them. If you need to let air out, push the pin on the air valve in towards the tire.

Changing your oil on a regular basis. I’ll be perfectly honest. I’ve never done this myself, but you can easily have this done by a mechanic. Changing your oil keeps your car running smoothly and extends the life of the vehicle. Try to get it changed every 5,000 miles, and if you live in a cold climate then you should do it more often. If you want to check your oil level before it gets changed, locate the oil in the front of the engine and pull out the dipstick, wiping it clean. Dip and pull it out again, and you should see two lines. If you don’t, you can buy more oil at the gas station. When you are checking your oil level you can also see if it’s time for the oil to be changed altogether. If you see dirt when you rub the oil between your fingers then its probably time.

Fixing your brakes. Squeaky brakes are never a good sign because they mean the brake lining is starting to wear thin. But how long can you go until you need to get them repaired? The longer you wait, the more expensive it’ll be. If you notice squeaky brakes or your brake light comes on, you don’t need to stop your car on the side of the ride, but you should get them serviced soon. According to my mechanic, you still have 20% of the pad left which could be up to 2000 miles. However, if your brakes start to grind or grumble it means you’ve worn through the pad and it’s definitely time to see a mechanic!

Hope this helps! If you want more tips, send us a tweet @Metromile .