Lance C. is a software engineer who lives in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago. He’s never driven much. Before the coronavirus pandemic, he would bike or take public transit to work. Now, because of COVID-19, he’s driving even less because he’s working from home. He keeps a car for the weekends for weekend getaways, his soccer matches, and errands. He owns three BMWs that he lists on the car-sharing marketplace Turo.
How long have you been a Metromile customer?
I joined Metromile around the beginning of 2020. As soon as Turo notified hosts about the partnership with Metromile, I jumped on it. Insurance can get expensive!
I had been looking for a pay per mile, low-use car insurance for the last two years. I couldn’t find one that fit my situation because other insurers with a pay per mile model would have still charged me for miles driven by Turo guests. That didn’t work because most of the miles being put on my cars are from my Turo guests, not me. Prior to Metromile, I was basically paying double for car insurance — for cars I wasn’t driving.
How do you like your Metromile insurance?
I love my Metromile insurance! It costs me about $20 a car each month. It’s the best thing there is! It’s cut my bill at least in half. It’s just great, and I saved so much money. Even if there are no guests, Metromile provides huge savings when the cars aren’t making money for me on Turo.
The Metromile app is also awesome. I love to see where my cars are parked. I have three cars on the Turo platform, so it’s great to know where the Turo guests park them. I also love the street-sweeping alerts and near real-time billing.
I’d love to see a car unlocking and locking feature, and I’d also like to see an integration that makes it easier and more seamless for Turo guests to share their gas and mileage. Also, add renters insurance, so I can dump my other insurer and bundle with Metromile!
With many people still staying close to home during COVID-19, what changes have you seen with trips taken by Turo guests?
I’m starting to see an uptick in rentals again this summer. People are still renting my cars to run errands like big grocery runs, but they are also driving to visit their families out of town.
Cities like Chicago are conducive to Metromile, and I think there will always be a need for pay-per-mile car insurance. It can take a long time to find parking, so many people are like me: The times you use your car are few and far between.
Jenna M. is the cousin we all want to have. She moved to Chicago from San Francisco about five years ago for a new job, and coincidentally, so did her cousin. When her cousin fell ill recently, she did a grocery run for him. As she quickly ran the groceries to his door, thieves moved even faster and stole her car. Here’s how Jenna used the Metromile app to help the police find her car within just a few hours.
How long have you been a Metromile customer?
I’ve had Metromile for a while; this is my third year. I work downtown in the Loop, and I don’t drive to work. A friend of mine told me all about Metromile—she was using it—so I looked into it, and I couldn’t believe it. I thought I should definitely do this.
When you say you don’t drive, how often do you drive?
I probably drive a total of 20 miles a week. I use my car on the weekends to go to the grocery store and Target because I live in the city. The more and more I learned about Metromile, I thought, I’m getting this right now!
Recently, you had your car stolen. Can you share how it happened?
It was 7:30 at night, and I‘m dropping off two loads of groceries for a cousin who lives alone in a high-rise. There was no one around, so I pulled my car up to the loading zone in front. My car was off, and I had my keys with me in my pocket, along with my phone. I had to make two trips because it was just me. I make one trip, come back down, and my car is still there, flashers still on. I wasn’t having any contact with him, so it was very quick. On the way back up on my second trip, I had sent my cousin a text “OK, coming back up,” so he could buzz me in. It had been four minutes from the time that I sent the text to the time that I had got back down to the lobby, and my car was gone.
That’s terrible! What did you do next?
I just couldn’t believe it. I came out and was just standing out on the curb. It didn’t even cross my mind that it got stolen. It just didn’t occur to me.
I call the non-emergency number: “I’m just helping out my sick cousin right now, and you towed my car!” The dispatcher told me the city of Chicago is not towing any vehicles right now. The minute she told me that, it just occurred to me: I’m going to pull up my Metromile app! I have “Find my iPhone,” basically, for my car.
What did you find on the Metromile app?
I just sat on my couch all night with my husband watching my car traveling all over the South Side. I see my car just floating down Lake Shore Drive, heading south, south, south! And I couldn’t believe it. It was a very surreal moment. Is this happening to me right now?
I immediately called the cops and explained that I thought my car was stolen. I have a device in it that’s associated with my car insurance, and I know exactly where it is. They were all so surprised. I had to explain what a Pulse was and everything. The police officer said, “Oh, that’s cool!”
Because I knew where it was, they told me: keep watching it. They would send a cop to the last location.
Where did the car go?
I just sat on my couch all night with my husband watching my car traveling all over. They were deep in the South Side of Chicago. The cops told me they’re joyriding, but eventually, they’ll ditch it. I’m just refreshing and pulling the app up. The app shows your gas usage, so I figured once my gas would run out, they would ditch my car.
My car got stolen at around 7:45 p.m. When I started the night, my gas was at 60%, and at this point four hours later, it was at 10%. Finally, the car had stopped moving, and they had turned around close to where they stole it from me. Then, they parked it. It had been stopped for about 15 minutes, and I called the cops right back. At 1 in the morning, I went and retrieved my car. The cops sat there and waited for me. They did a thorough search and helped me disinfect the whole thing, which was nice because of what we’re dealing with right now.
Did anything happen to your car?
I got really lucky. They didn’t do anything to do it. They stole a bunch of things—all my groceries and my daughter’s car seat. I was just glad to have my car back! I guess they just took it for a joyride.
Welcome to Metromile! Within 2 weeks of your policy start date, you’ll receive a small, secure device in the mail called the Metromile Pulse device. You’ll receive a Pulse device for each vehicle you’re insuring with Metromile. The Pulse device counts your miles, helps you find your car, and enables you to understand your car’s health. It’s one of the most important parts of your Metromile insurance.
Here you’ll be able to find instructions on how to plug in your Pulse device and some frequently asked questions people have when they’re first getting set up. We want to make sure plugging in your device is easy! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us by visiting our Help Center.
How do I change my shipping address?
You can change your shipping address from your online account under Policy. We can also update your shipping address if you contact us.
How can I track the shipping of my Pulse device?
Once we ship your Pulse device, we’ll send you an email and text with a tracking number. You should receive the device within 7 days of shipment.
What if I didn’t receive my Pulse device in the mail?
If you haven’t received your Pulse device within 7 days of it being shipped, contact us. You can also review the tracking number from your shipping notification email for more information.
How do I connect my Pulse device?
Locate your OBD-II port
Find the port near your dashboard, pedals, or center console.
Plug in your Pulse device
If the device’s red light is on when it arrives, it may have woken up in transit, but still needs to be connected to your vehicle to count your miles. Wiggle the device into your OBD-II port, making sure it’s plugged all the way in.
Note: if you have multiple Pulse devices, each device is labeled with the year, make, and model of the vehicle it needs to be plugged in to.
Go for a drive
Take at least a 5 minute drive within 24 hours of plugging in your Pulse device.
Check for the light
A red light should now be illuminated on your Pulse device, indicating it’s powered up.
Note: Even if you see the red light before taking a drive, it’s important you still drive your vehicle to make sure it sends us a signal.
You’ll hear from us
We’ll let you know by email and text when we get a signal from your device—this can take up to 1 day.
What if my car doesn’t have an OBD-II port?
We may be able to support some electric cars, such as Tesla vehicles, with an adapter. If you didn’t receive an adapter with your Pulse device and have an electric car or car older than 1996, contact us.
What should I do if I can’t see the light on the Pulse device?
If you don’t see the light on your Pulse device, it may be loose. Try plugging it into your OBD-II port again.
If the device is connected and you don’t see a red light, plug the device into a different car (it’s ok if it’s not yours). If the red light turns on in the new car, the problem is likely your OBD-II port. We recommend checking the fuse or having a mechanic take a look. If you don’t see a red light in the second car, or if your mechanic says your OBD-II port is healthy, contact us.
Is there a deadline for plugging in my Pulse device?
Yes — we’ll let you know when you need to plug in your Pulse device once we ship your device to you. Our devices should arrive within 7 days of shipment, so you’ll have plenty of time to plug yours in. On the day your Pulse device arrives in the mail, look out for an email or text message. This email will have details about how to plug in your device as well as the exact date and time we need to receive a signal from your device.
What if I’m away and can’t plug in the Pulse device when it arrives?
You should receive your Pulse device in the mail within 7 days. If you need more time to plug in your device, contact us, and we can set a grace period for you.
What is a grace period?
A grace period lets us know you’ll be away from your car and won’t be able to plug in your device right away. During your grace period, you won’t be charged fees if we aren’t able to receive a signal from your car’s Pulse device.
What happens if I don’t plug in my Pulse device by the required date and time and don’t have a grace period set?
We want to make sure this doesn’t happen—you can always contact us for help. If you don’t have a grace period set up, each vehicle without a functioning Pulse device will receive a No Signal charge.
What is a No Signal charge?
If we don’t receive a signal from your Metromile Pulse device, we may charge a No Signal fee to cover any miles you may have driven. We’ll send an email to remind you to plug in or troubleshoot your device before we charge the fee. The device must be plugged into your car at all times so that we can accurately measure and bill the miles you drive.
We understand that there are times when you may need to unplug the device, like when you get your car serviced. Don’t worry; it’s ok to remove the device so that the mechanic can access the port. Just be sure to plug the device back in after service is complete.
To say the last few weeks have been a whirlwind would be the understatement of the century. As people all over the world reorganize their lives to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, social lives, personal relationships, and professional responsibilities have been looking a whole lot different than usual.
One thing’s for sure. Many of us are not driving as much as we do normally. If your company has instituted a work-from-home policy or you’re simply skipping your regular trips to the grocery store or to hang with friends, you may have considered what your car needs to stay in top shape. As we weather the uncertainty of the coming weeks and months, here are some maintenance tips to reduce anxiety in at least one area of your life:
Park indoors if possible (or use a car cover). To prevent damage from rain, sun, or debris from the environment, keep your car as protected as possible. If you’re lucky enough to have a garage, use it. If not, try to find covered parking, or perhaps consider purchasing a cover to keep your car safe as it sits on the street.
Scrub down the interiors. You already know that proper hygiene and sanitation are of the utmost importance right now — don’t ignore your car in all that cleaning up. Use a disinfectant wipe to clean the steering wheel, gear shift, dashboard, seats, radio, and any other high-touch areas.
Inflate the tires. Tires can lose pressure and generate flat spots when they’re just sitting around. Top them off to the recommended pressure to help prevent this. If you want to be hardcore about it, you can lift the car on blocks or splurge for some “tire savers” small ramps that you park the car on top of to keep the tires rounded.
Start it up once in a while. Even if it’s just a spin around the block or parking lot, it’s good for your car to get warm once or twice a month.
The tips above are a good start if you’ll be driving rarely. If you’re really expecting to not drive at all for a few months, you can go even further:
Change the oil and air filters before putting the car away. Because all kinds of icky elements can accumulate in air filters and used oil (like moisture and metal filings), it’s not a bad idea to fill your engine with fresh oil before putting your car to rest for a long while.
Consider removing the spark plugs. If you know your car isn’t going anywhere for a long while, you may want to remove the spark plugs. These little devices are responsible for creating the ignition for the combustion necessary to start your car. Over time, spark plugs deteriorate, so removing them can save you some trouble later on, when you’re ready to start driving again.
The most important thing during this time is to stay physically healthy. If you’ve got that covered, make sure you’re taking care of your ride too. And when it comes to your financial health, pay-per-mile car insurance is a great fit for occasional drivers.
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Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist, UC Berkeley alumna, and Metromile customer.
If you, like me, cringe every time you hear one of those studies about how disgusting an everyday item is, then brace yourself: your car probably isn’t the pristine safe haven you think it is. According to one study, the average steering wheel is four times dirtier than a public toilet seat. The cup holder, seat belts, and door handles aren’t too much cleaner.
Now more than ever it seemed timely to offer some tips on keeping your car extra clean. Of course, we support driving less in general — and especially so these days — but if you have to get out and about we suggest a clean ride.
Here are some must-know tips to disinfect your vehicle:
Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. You already buy those handy disinfectant wipes for the surfaces in your home — why not keep a spare box handy in your trunk? Wipe down the steering wheel, gear shifter, handles, and any other surfaces in your car that get a lot of attention.
Don’t wait to clean up messes. Most of us are guilty of snacking or full-on dining in the driver’s seat from time to time. But some research indicates that food spilled on a dashboard has 10 times the bacteria than the seat belt or radio dial, so make sure you promptly clean up any soda spills, sandwich crumbs, or other food-related deposits.
Shampoo and vacuum the upholstery. It’s one of those tasks we often ignore, but vacuuming the upholstery in your vehicle can make a big difference in removing dust mites, food crumbs, and all sorts of icky substances that can get you sick.
Replace the air filter. Spraying disinfectant into your intake vent and replacing your old air filter can help weed out some of the germs circulating in the cabin of your car.
Roll the windows down from time to time. Viruses love stale, stagnant air, so do your best to prevent those conditions in your car. Roll down the windows when you can and let some fresh air waft through.
Take a mop to the mats. Think about it: your feet, which drag on all kinds of sidewalk gunk and street junk, rest on your car mats. Shouldn’t you make it a point to clean those every once in a while? Taking them out and mopping or spraying them can help clean up some of the mess.
Clean your keys too. Your car keys see a lot of action, whether they’re buried in your backpack or jammed along with discarded tissues into your pocket. Get in the habit of wiping them down with sanitizer too.
Stay safe and stay healthy — in and out of your car! We’re available as usual for pay-per-mile insurance quotes, customer support, and to take care of our customers’ claims.
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Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist, UC Berkeley alumna, and Metromile customer.
Meet Sana Farrukh, software engineer extraordinaire and a member of our mighty Boston team. (Aside: the team is looking to grow!) Here Sana shares about her background, what drew her to Metromile, and why she likes holding down our fort on the east coast.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I am originally from Lahore, Pakistan. Back in 2015, I came to Boston for grad school and graduated from Tufts. My area of expertise is in computer networks, more specifically internal data center networks.
What interested you about Metromile?
There were a few things that compelled me to explore and advance my career with Metromile:
The vast variety of interesting projects that Metromile offered based on the collected telematics data really spiked my interest. This is still a relatively new field, so there still is plenty of opportunity to explore even more interesting projects.
It offered an entirely different domain, compared to what I had experience with, in academia. So I wanted to move into something different.
As a small company with new, budding projects, Metromile offers the opportunity to work on projects from start to launch, not to be pigeon holed on one product or discipline. That means, too, that all my contributions are meaningful.
And now that I am here, it is also the people I work with and the amazing teams I’m part of, that makes me want to come in everyday.
As a software engineer, where specifically is your work focused right now?
So far I have been lucky enough to work on a few different projects: customer outreach, our analysis of driving behavior, mobile telematics integration (that is, syncing customers’ phones with their driving data). At present, my work is focused on making the new customer experience the very best possible one. This means ensuring that the customer receives consistent and coherent communication from us in their first few weeks and that their experience with the Pulse device is seamless.
Boston is a smaller office than our San Francisco and Tempe locations. Plusses and minuses?
Boston is indeed a small team, which is one of the things I love about our office.
It is relatively quiet, which works best for me as I like to work in quiet environments. And being three hours ahead of San Francisco, we start early and get adequate time to work continuously before afternoon meetings start.
Being a small team, everyone knows everyone. We often find ourselves taking a deeper dive into discussions about current teams, projects, interests both within and outside of work, vacation plans, pets, etc. Impromptu lunches often gather the whole office on one table — you can’t do that in a big office.
With everyone sitting close to everyone else, it is often effortless to seek guidance and help on tasks we need a second opinion on. Despite our size, we still have a good mix of folks from different teams, so we’re able to apply diverse expertise to problems.
What kind of person would you suggest consider working at Metromile?
Metromile is more than just an insurance company. It offers a unique combination of IoT, engineering, research, and, yes, insurance. Anyone who is interested in the intersection of those things should definitely look into Metromile.
So the teenager in your household is driving. Congrats! And condolences — perhaps this exciting new development has made you aware of the fact that insurance for teen drivers can be pretty pricey. Adding a single teenager to your policy may cause your annual premium to rise by an average of 78%. It turns out there’s a good reason for this sticker shock — and plenty of good ways to work around that issue to save money on your bill.
Why is insurance for teen drivers so expensive?
When it comes to insurance costs, it’s all about risk, and teen drivers are considered some of the riskiest behind the wheel. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States and In 2017, 2,364 teens in the U.S. between the ages of 16-19 were killed, and about 300,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes.
The CDC considers a few subgroups particularly at high risk when it comes to car crashes: male drivers, teens driving with teen passengers, and newly licensed teens. A combination of factors, including inexperience, speeding, lack of seat belt use, and alcohol use may make teens more dangerous behind the wheel, and that danger is heightened at night and on the weekends.
Even if your teen has a squeaky clean driving record, a perfect grade on their driver’s test, and no inclination toward any bad behavior, you’ll likely be paying steep rates for their coverage. The rates typically tend to decline around age 25, but for high school and college kids, prices will probably remain high.
How can you save money on teen driver coverage?
There are some strategies to lessen the pain here. Ask your insurer if they offer discounts for a high GPA or consider enrolling your teen in a safe driving course. If your teen driver is away at college without a vehicle, they may be eligible for a discount. Remember, too, that your teen driver’s car matters; a brand new or luxury vehicle is decidedly not the way to save.
One super simple way to save money on your teen’s insurance coverage is by making the switch to pay-per-mile insurance. Most teens aren’t making major commutes everyday or in need of a vehicle 24/7. If your teen’s driving mostly consists of short trips to school and back, pay-per-mile may be a good fit — and could lead to significant savings.
A novice driver is never going to be cheap to insure, but there are ways to manage the cost without skimping on quality. Is pay-per-mile right for your teen?
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Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist, UC Berkeley alumna, and Metromile customer.
As a child, you probably looked forward to becoming an adult so you could make your own decisions. It wasn’t fair that your parents could tell you when to go to bed, what you had to eat, and that you had to take a bath every day!
As an adult, you probably crave that same control. Unfortunately, many of us now report to a different master: money. This new boss controls everything from where we live to whether we can go on a much-needed vacation.
Pay-per-mile insurance is about more than savings — it’s about control. As a Metromile customer, you will only pay for the miles you drive, and that amount is up to you! But insurance is just one piece of your financial puzzle, and greater control of the rest is also within your reach. Here’s how to get started:
Take stock of your finances
When fixing a flat tire, you don’t just randomly slap a patch on it and hope you covered the hole. You have to inspect the tire and identify the issue so you can figure out how to fix it.
It’s the same with your finances. If you want to take control, the first step is assessing the situation by taking stock of where your money is coming from and where it’s going.
This might be the scariest step, but it’s the most important, as you’ll use this information to make a plan. So take a deep breath, log into your financial accounts, and jot down the following information:
All of your income. This includes your primary salary, any side hustles, etc.
All of your debts. Make sure you total up everything — credit card debt, student loans, auto loans, medical debt — the works. Conveniently ”forgetting” to include debts so your total sum looks smaller will only hurt you later when the numbers don’t add up.
While you’re at it, check your credit so you know how other people are assessing you. Your credit score and history can impact everything from whether you get that dream apartment to how much you’ll pay for car insurance, so it’s important to keep track of. You can pull your credit report for free from each of the credit bureaus every year.
Make a plan
While winging everything might’ve worked for Harry Potter, it probably won’t help you win the war against debt. You need a good plan if you want to take control.
In the financial world, plans usually take shape in the dreaded “b” word: budget. Don’t worry: a budget isn’t as scary as it sounds. John Maxwell explains that a budget is simply “telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went.” It’s also nothing to be ashamed about — in fact, the one thing most millionaires have in common is that they make a budget.
First things first: have a goal. Maybe that’s paying off all your debt, saving a certain amount of money this year, or buying a new car. This will help you focus when you’re tempted to stray.
Secondly, create a plan for every dollar. To simplify things, break your expenses up into categories. For example, you may want to allocate 50% of your after-tax income to necessities (rent, food, transportation, etc.), 20% to wants (your favorite drink at Starbucks, date night, etc.), and 30% to savings and debt repayment. There are some fantastic tools to help on this front like YNAB (You Need a Budget).
Next, track everything. This step is essential if you want to create a realistic budget and stick to it. It doesn’t matter whether you use an app or record everything manually, you just need to be able to glance at it and know how you’re doing. Check in several times each month and adjust your spending pace as necessary.
Finally, keep adjusting. No one expects you to spend and save the same amount each month. Things happen; give yourself some flexibility and don’t beat yourself up if you occasionally go off-track.
When it comes to taking charge of your finances, getting started is the hardest part. Just remember: it’ll all be worth it when you finally have control over your life again. In a future article, we’ll go over practical ways to set yourself up for financial success in the future.
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Jenna Lee is a content marketer, Oxford comma enthusiast, and cat lover living in the Bay Area.
We’ve received thousands of questions about car insurance coverage, billing, and more over the years. Today, an answer to one of the most common: “How does Metromile measure miles, and what does it mean for my privacy?”
How do you measure miles?
Metromile customers’ miles are calculated by a device called the Pulse. We believe the most significant risk factor for getting into an accident is mileage — if you aren’t on the road, your risk is quite low — and the Pulse device is the key to measuring this factor accurately. It connects to your car’s computer to keep an eye on mileage and act as a GPS device. Besides calculating miles, the Pulse device can decode a maintenance light in your car, alert you when you’re parked in a street sweeping zone, remind you where you parked, help you optimize fuel use, and more.
When you become a Metromile customer, you are covered as of the effective date of your policy, regardless of whether or not your Pulse device is plugged in. As you near your policy effective date, we will ship your Pulse device to you, and your job is to plug it into what’s called the OBD-II port in your vehicle — the same port your mechanic uses to diagnose issues.
If my driving is being tracked, how do you ensure my privacy?
The Pulse securely transmits data through a cell modem to update your account with trip information. No smartphone or Bluetooth pairing is needed. Metromile takes electronic, physical and procedural steps to help protect your personal information and has security personnel on-site that investigate and respond to issues. Your information is not sold or rented to third parties for marketing purposes.
Metromile also offers you some degree of control; customers can opt to disable the GPS function on their Pulse through the Metromile online dashboard, which means we won’t store your location data long term. Your miles will still be calculated accurately in this case, but it will mean that some of the bonus features that use your location, like street sweeping alerts, won’t work.
There you have it: no tricks, no games, no violations of your privacy. Just a way to offer you the fairest car insurance rates possible — and a few bonus features on top of that.
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Julianne Sawyer is a freelance writer, app producer, and real-life Metromile customer living in the San Francisco Bay Area.