Ear Candy: Podcasts for the Daily Commute

Whether driving or using alternative forms of transportation, the monotony of a daily commute can be exhausting. Turn left here, turn right there, sit in stopped traffic for twenty minutes… To make your commute more enjoyable, we’re here with some great podcasts to tune in to. The best part? They’re almost all free. Many will have you on the edge of your seat with suspense or crying because you are laughing so hard.

commuting tips

Serial tells one true story over the course of a season. Each episode, you are given more and more information about the plot and characters, so episodes must be listened to in order. Season one follows an unsolved murder mystery, and season two follows U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban and is now home. It’s captivating – you won’t want to get out of your car (or bus)!

The Moth records stories told by everyday people, unscripted, to a crowd of storytelling enthusiasts worldwide. The stories are strung together by a common theme into a weekly podcast that comes out on Tuesdays. See if there is a live story slam near you (you can enter to share your own story too).

Stuff You Should Know has something for everyone – from learning how jackhammers work to discovering the origins of dark fairy tales. You can get the lowdown now on their website.

TED Radio Hour circles through many fascinating inventions, approaches, creations and more. They are based on real TED Talks given by speakers on the famed TED stage. Also, check out the TEDTalks: Technology podcast where inventors and researchers in tech share their visions and successes.

Dinner Party Download will get you up-to-date on culture, food and conversation. Guests include creative and comedic celebrities, such as Steve Martin, Jason Schwartzmann, Brie Larson and Olivia Wilde. You’ll be full of conversation starters for your next party.

We’re always looking for new podcasts to add to our library. What are you listening to? Share with us below in the comments. And if your podcast-filled commute has you taking the bus instead of driving, pay-per-mile insurance could be a great option for you! Learn more here.

Be Prepared: What to Do Before & After a Car Accident

No matter how minor, being in a car accident can really jolt you (pun not intended). To ease the burden and shock, familiarize yourself with the following tips about what to do before and after an accident.

car accident

Before the accident
Be sure to keep your vehicle registration, auto insurance and emergency contact list in your car, and always carry your driver’s license with you when driving. Keep a set of orange cones or warning triangles in your trunk to help alert traffic in the situation of an accident.

At the scene
Before worrying about anything else, make sure everyone is OK (including people in the other car), and call 911 if anyone is injured. Then immediately move everyone (and your car if possible) to a safe location on the side of the road.

Once in a safe space, be sure to call the police to file a police report, and use your smartphone to take pictures of the damage. Before the other party departs, exchange information and take down their insurance information, license plate and a photo of their driver’s license. Notify your insurance company immediately and be ready to provide them with this information. If you are a Metromile customer, you can easily file your claim online or call us at 1.888.595.5485.

In case of phantom accidents
In the case of a hit and run, be sure to get as much information as possible, especially a full or partial license plate if possible. If there are any witnesses, get their contact information. Avoid fixing the car until the damage has been assessed by an adjuster.

In the case of stolen car, call the police as soon as possible to file a report, and then contact your insurance company. If you are a pay-per-mile customer, the Pulse can be used to help locate a stolen car (it’s happened in the past!).

The Aftermath
At Metromile, a customer service advocate will reach out proactively to help ensure the claims process goes as smooth as possible. No other leading insurance company does this! They will track your progress and help you with any questions you may have about resolving the claim.

If you are a pay-per-mile insurance customer and are in an accident, you can reach the Metromile claims team 24/7 at 888.215.9176. Whether you need help locating repair facilities or need an update on work being done, Metromile can get you the information you need. We’ll do everything we can to get you back on the road as quickly and safely as possible.

Making Moves: Metromile Receives Strategic Investment

We are thrilled to announce that Intact Financial Corporation, the largest provider of property and casualty insurance in Canada, has made a strategic investment in Metromile.

Metromile Investment

2015 was an exciting year for Metromile – we launched a partnership with Uber, expanded to the East Coast and added to our executive team. Funds from this investment will be used to continue on our exciting journey by accelerating Metromile’s growth and offerings nationwide. For our customers, this means a continued focus on the customer experience from sign up through day-to-day needs, improved app technology and updated features, further development of the claims experience and much more. You’ll also be seeing a lot more of us around town!

Intact Financial shares similar values in transparency, customer experience and a technology-driving approach to insurance. The venture represents an exciting opportunity for Intact Financial to expand its core competencies which will ultimately enhance the customer experience.

To see more announcements from Metromile, visit our Press page. And if you are interested in our pay-per-mile insurance offering, you can learn more here.

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.

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 .

Get Your Car Road Trip Ready

Memorial Day Weekend is upon us which means that summer is unofficially here! Whether you are heading to the beach, the wilderness, or a BBQ at your friend’s new condo, a healthy car is probably a prerequisite for your weekend plans. Here’s a handy list to prepare for smooth driving ahead.

 

Road Trip

 

Flat-out protection
It is possible to pre-emptively stop flats before they turn into a major detour. Check your tires to see if anything looks off, such as weird bulges or uneven tire wear. To be extra safe pick up a tire gauge, which could cost less than a rest stop meal and tells you exactly what your tire pressure is. Your tires should be inflated according to the vehicle manufacturer recommendations, which can be found in your owner’s manual or on the inside of your car’s door. And as Mechanic Matt suggests, make sure your spare tire is also inflated because it can leak slowly over time.

Fill’er up
We all face the same road trip conundrum: how do you know when to fill up your gas? What if gas is cheaper in the next town you pass? Don’t wait until your tank is empty because you might be stuck going to the most expensive gas station. Check a site like GasBuddy ahead of time to find the areas that have the best prices along your route. While you’re at it, check your washer fluid levels too so you can refill if needed and aren’t stuck with a bug-laden windshield.

Be (extra) prepared
Even if you take the time to make sure your car is in tip-top condition before a long drive, you could still hit unexpected roadblocks. Keep some basic tools in your car, such as a jack wrench, lug wrench, jumper cables, and a flashlight. A first aid kit is good to have on hand also. And don’t forget those extra snacks in case you get stuck in traffic; no one likes a hangry driver. Check out our road trip checklist to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything.

Know your way
Whether you use an app on your smartphone or the old-fashioned paper map, familiarize yourself with the route before you step on the gas. Checking directions while driving is considered distracted driving; taking your eyes off the road for even a few moments could cause an accident. Waze is a great app to use because it updates your route in real-time based on traffic patterns and user-submitted tips, and you can set directions to be read out loud so you never have to look at your phone.

It is important to note that these tips are in addition to the comprehensive check-up that your mechanic should be doing throughout the year. Your brakes, cooling system, transmission service, oil levels and exhaust system can all deteriorate over time, and if you aren’t confident about the inner workings of your car it might be best to leave this stuff to an expert. Just make sure you are staying on top of the maintenance schedule suggested by your manufacturer. If you have the Metromile app, you can check your car’s health.

Planning to road trip more this summer? We will be compiling these and other tips into a road trip guide which will be fueled by the Metromile community. If you’d like to contribute to the guide, tag your photos, tips and more with #HowIRoadtrip. Happy travels!

Go on a Low Carbon Diet by Driving Less

 

California governor Jerry Brown recently ordered the most aggressive carbon emission cut goal in the US. He is aiming to cut carbon emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, matching a target set by the EU. This should have a significant impact on the US’s overarching goal, which is to reduce emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Some higher level initiatives include deriving electricity from renewable sources and reducing petroleum usage in cars and trucks, but there is plenty you can personally do to make a difference, California resident or not. So what does a “low carbon diet” entail?

Reduce Carbon Emissions

More biking and public transit: Warmer weather is here, so ride your bike or walk in order to avoid carbon emissions completely. Carpooling and public transportation also drastically reduces your carbon footprint by spreading fuel usage across multiple riders. If you are a pay-per-mile insurance customer with Metromile, this will also save you tons of money!

Smarter driving: There are times when biking won’t cut it, like when you go on a weekend road trip or a big grocery run. Luckily there are a few hacks that will reduce your carbon footprint when you do have to drive. Keep a light foot on the gas pedal. Speeding wastes gas and money, and also increases your carbon footprint. In fact, take your foot off the pedal completely. Cruise control also helps reduce CO2 emissions while driving and makes the trip a little more enjoyable.

Less baggage: The heavier your car, the more fuel you burn and CO2 you emit. This is why we like to follow the “less is more” rule of thumb when packing. If you do need to carry bikes or snow gear, get a hitch mounted rack. Car top carriers not only cost more, but also increase aerodynamic drag and decrease fuel economy.

Optimized routes: Being stuck in traffic wastes gas and creates unnecessary CO2. It also likely doesn’t fit into your busy schedule. Check out our recent blog post about how to beat traffic. And when you are out and about, combine errands to reduce the number of trips you make.

A great side effect of the low carbon diet is saving money. With Metromile’s affordable car insurance, you only get charged for the miles you drive. The bottom line? Drive less and you can save money (and the environment). If you aren’t already a customer learn how much you could save!

Beat the Traffic: How Does Your City Rank?

 

Metromile app users in Los Angeles spend an average of six hours per week in their cars. And a new study from TomTom finds that coincidentally (or not coincidentally) LA is the most congested city in the US and the 10th most congested city in the world. So what does that mean for your commute? And more importantly, what can we do to reduce all of this congestion?

LA has a 40% increase in overall travel time compared to what TomTom classifies as “free flow”, which means driving without any congestion. Other major west coast cities are up there too: SF at 34%, Seattle at 31% and Portland at 26%. All of these cities have more traffic on local roads versus highways. Interestingly, all of these cities also have about a 15-25% increase from morning peak hours to night peak hours. Portland has a 35% increase in travel time in the morning but jumps up to a 61% increase in the evening. Meaning, your morning commute might not be that bad, but be prepared for some evening gridlock.

Beat Traffic

So what is the takeaway from all of this data? Do whatever you can to drive less. Nearly all of these cities have great public transit systems, and many are focusing on making their roads more bike friendly. A national Bike to Work Week (which happens to be next week!) is also helping to raise awareness. And if you do need a car to get to work, try to avoid commuting during peak evening hours.

Here at Metromile, we believe that pay-per-mile insurance incentivizes people to drive less, therefore removing cars from the road. While we are currently seeing that our LA app users spend six hours per week in their cars, our per-mile insurance customers are averaging four and a half hours. If you only get charged for the miles you drive, there’s more reason to find alternative transportation methods, like biking or taking the train. Fewer cars on the road results in less traffic, which means less commuting time for people that do have to drive!

Want to see how much you could save with per-mile insurance? Learn more here!

Maintenance Monday: 5 Spring Cleaning Tips for a Healthy Car

 

Hello, Metromile community, Mechanic Matt here! Even if you aren’t driving a ton it’s still important to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape. Just in time for spring cleaning, follow these simple steps to ensure your car stays healthy and reliable.

Healthy Car

1. Have your oil changed regularly. This isn’t a ploy for repair shops to make more money. It is important to change oil either at the recommended service interval or every 6 months, whichever is sooner. Engine oil can degrade and collect moisture if the car sits for too long, and moisture inside of an engine can be detrimental.

2. Check your (spare) tire pressure. Most tires will hold air indefinitely, however, some leak very slowly thus creating problems when you embark on a road trip. My advice? Check the spare also. The spare gets overlooked at most garages and is useless if it’s flat when you need it the most. The spare tires are usually in the trunk beneath the carpet.

3. Protect your vehicle from the elements. Spring brings sunshine and birds chirping, but that also means potential damage for your car. Wash it regularly to remove any contaminants that may be harming the paint (such as bird poop) and get it waxed at least once a year for protection. Ultraviolet rays can also degrade both the exterior and the interior. Keep the interior nice and pretty by installing a sunshade to keep direct sun off of the dashboard and lower the interior temperature of the vehicle tremendously.

4. Keep your battery charged. Even while your car is turned off, all vehicles have very small battery drains for the clock, radio presets, and computer memory. If your vehicle sits for long periods of time make sure to unplug cell phone chargers, GPS devices or anything else that uses a power port. If you are planning on storing your vehicle you should look into a battery tender, a small charger that keeps your battery topped off every day. It uses 110 A/C power so keep it close to an outlet.

5. Pay attention. Nobody knows your car quite like you do. You know how it sounds, feels, drives, and smells. When your car sounds, feels, drives or smells different, it is trying to tell you something. If you aren’t sure what an indicator on the dashboard is trying to tell you, check your owners manual. And if you are using the Metromile app it can also give you a diagnosis of your car’s running condition.

These are just a few simple things you can do to keep your vehicle alive and well.

-Mechanic Matt

Are You a Distracted Driver?

 

Distracted Driving Awareness Month may be coming to an end but that doesn’t mean that you should go back to checking Facebook notifications every time you stop at a red light. After the latest heart-wrenching episode of Grey’s Anatomy, the show’s fans strongly understand the consequences of turning your attention to a phone for just a few seconds. Familiarize yourself with the tips below to prevent distracted driving. They might not be revolutionary, but they will ensure you aren’t in the 80% of people who admit they engage in blatantly hazardous activity while driving.

Distracted Driving

  1. Put down the phone. It’s enticing to check your phone every time it beeps, but if you are behind the wheel, don’t do it. Here’s a scary stat: driving a vehicle while texting is now 6x more dangerous than driving drunk. Even if you have a really urgent message (like to make sure Game of Thrones is being recorded), wait to text until your car is parked. If you are traveling with a passenger, you can ask them to be your messenger!
  2. Traffic isn’t an excuse. For those of you who inevitably sit in traffic every day, using idle time to maximize your morning routine (i.e. putting on makeup, perfecting your moustache) is tempting. Again, don’t do it. Give yourself a few extra minutes each day to finish getting ready before you dash out.
  3. Use better directions. We get the reliance on your favorite maps app, especially if you are embarking on a road trip or heading somewhere new. Familiarize yourself with the suggested route before starting your car, and since most map apps will read the instructions aloud to you, there should be no reason for you to ever look at the screen again.
  4. Snack smarter. You leave work famished, so you stop to grab something to tide you over until dinner. However one hand on the wheel and one hand holding a burger means you’re less likely to maneuver with skill. We aren’t nutritionists so aren’t going to advise on changing your eating habits, but do whatever it takes to not eat while driving. Added bonus: less ketchup spills means less money spent cleaning.

As cool as Metromile’s app is, we don’t condone using it while driving either. Stay safe out there and put down that phone!