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Car Insurance for Teens is Expensive. Here’s How to Save.

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.

A Few Easy Steps to Take Control of Your Finances

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. 

Bottom line

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. 

Metromile 101: Privacy and Calculating Miles

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.

Metromile 101: Is Pay-Per-Mile Legit?

One of the most common questions we hear from car insurance shoppers is a pretty simple one: “are you guys for real?” To be honest, it’s the question I first had when I was considering making the switch. My monthly premium with another car insurance company had recently skyrocketed and I couldn’t fathom forking over a significant chunk of my salary considering I was only driving a few miles each week. I saw a Metromile ad but figured the prospect of pay-per-mile insurance was too good to be true.

How could one company charge me an arm and a leg while another was promising fair prices and only charging me for the miles I drove? 

Is Metromile legit?

I couldn’t make the decision alone, so I posed the question to my social media circle. Within minutes of my Facebook post, I received all kinds of feedback from friends and acquaintances who’d either already switched to Metromile or were seriously considering it and wanted the same info I did. After doing a bit more digging and talking to some of the early employees, I uncovered the truth: Metromile isn’t just legit; it’s the ideal solution for occasional drivers like me.

Here’s the deal: unlike most other car insurance companies, Metromile operates on a pay-per-mile structure. Not sure how that’s possible? Neither was I. The not-so-secret sauce of Metromile is pricing based on one very prominent risk factor that other insurers either ignore or are not so explicit about — time behind the wheel.

I’m worried about a low-cost carrier

Using the model above, Metromile is able to charge customers completely reasonable rates that make sense for lots of different types of drivers. In my case, I pay a monthly base rate of about $40, plus about 7 cents for every mile I drive (usually less than 20). Unlike the $100-plus bill I was seeing every month from my previous insurer, my Metromile monthly bill is about half that. 

I pay less, but the price is more fair and more closely represents risk. In this case, inexpensive doesn’t mean low quality.

What if I have a claim?

To put it simply — Metromile has your back. Savings are a focus, yes, but not at the expense of quality. Many satisfied pay-per-mile customers can attest to that.

If you have a loss, it’s turned over to a team of service-focused experts, led by insurance industry veterans, to take excellent care of you. And the proprietary, AI-driven claims technology speeds the process along; it’s not uncommon for claims to be paid out on the same day they’re reported.

The bottom line is this: Metromile is aiming to make car insurance better, not worse. That means savings, it means great features and white glove service, it means an app you actually like to use, and it means you can breathe easy in case of an accident. 

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Julianne Sawyer is a freelance writer, app producer, and real-life Metromile customer living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Actual Cost of Car Ownership pt. 2: Alternatives

In a previous post, we explored the true cost of car ownership, including things you typically forget to factor in, like depreciation, maintenance, and car insurance. If your goal is to save money this year, though, you’ll need some practical ways to do it. After all, saving money is one of the most commonly failed resolutions each year.

So if you’re serious about getting rid of one of the most costly expenses — your car — read on for some alternatives. Bonus: these options aren’t just cheaper; some are also healthier for you and those around you!

Cycling

Cost: Very easy to stay under $1,000 for a nice bike — in some cases far under!

Bike prices can vary widely, and the best bike for you will depend on where you live, where you need to go, and how often you’ll be using it. But even in less than perfect weather, a bike can keep you happy, healthy, and on-budget.

Bikes require far less maintenance than cars, zero spending in the way of gas or insurance, are a cheaper one-off cost, and you can usually buy them used if you want to save money. Plus, it’s much faster than walking, and unlike some other options, you can also buy a bike that’ll allow your kids to ride along.

Electric bike

Cost: Usually starts around $1,000.

If you like the idea of biking but don’t have a lot of time, or if you have kids to cart around, an electric bike can be a good middleman between driving and biking. 

In general, e-bikes are more expensive and cost more to maintain than regular bikes—in addition to the normal bike accessories, you also need to charge the battery, replace it occasionally, take the bike in for tune-ups, and more. However, many can help you go faster for less effort, which is ideal if you need to travel more than a few miles, and some are made for family travel!

Electric scooter

Cost: To buy, around $300; to rent, something like $1 per trip plus a few cents per minute.

Electric scooters are all the rage nowadays, especially if you live in a big city — but even if you don’t, they’re incredibly affordable to own, especially when compared to a car. After all, they’re fun to ride, much faster than walking, and don’t require any effort or sweat.

Ride-sharing and car-sharing

Cost: Starts at around $3 per trip plus miles and time for ride-sharing, or $70 a year plus miles and time for car-sharing

If you’re serious about ditching car ownership, there are plenty of options for when you need a ride. Rely on public transit, or your arsenal of reasonably priced options that we’ve covered above, and use ride-sharing or car-sharing services for longer trips or special occasions. You’ll very likely come out ahead; the Environmental Protection Agency estimates car sharing saves consumers anywhere between $154 and $430+ each month!

Walking

Cost: Free!

A no-brainer part of your arsenal that may help you live longer

Bottom line

Many people reflexively dismiss the idea of reducing or replacing their driving, but if you add up the costs, alternatives can make a compelling case. Think about this: a $500 bike, a $300 scooter, and $1,000 of ride sharing over the course of a year all add up to less than all but the very cheapest used cars. You’ll still come ahead even if splurging on a higher end e-bike. And after that, none of those pesky fuel costs, insurance bills, and very little maintenance. (This is, of course, not to mention the peace of mind, muscly quads, and impressed looks from acquaintances.) 

If your goal is to save money this year, consider getting rid of one of your most significant expenses — your car — and becoming healthier and greener while you’re at it.

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Jenna Lee is a content marketer, Oxford comma enthusiast, and cat lover living in the Bay Area. 


6 Tips To Prevent Car Theft

Having spent the majority of my auto-owning years as a San Francisco resident without a garage, I’ve come to accept the dread that accompanies the walk to my street parked car. I’ve seen countless break-ins and heard horror stories of thefts, so every time I see my dear old vehicle safe and sound where I left her, I breathe a sigh of relief. But all this hoping and wishing had me wondering if I could be doing something more to deter thieves and keep my car a little safer. Here are some of the best — and easiest — car theft prevention tips I’ve found: 

  1. Lock the doors — for real. I know, this one is ridiculously simple, but you’d be surprised how many people forget or just think they don’t have to lock their doors. Take the two-second task seriously and make sure you do it every time, even if you’re just popping out for a quick errand. 
  2. Always take your keys with you. This may sound like another “duh” tip, but again, it’s so straightforward, many of us neglect to take it seriously. Always take your keys out of the ignition when you exit your car and keep them with you — that includes every convenience store run, gas station fuel-up, and post office drop-off. 
  3. Remove everything — and I mean everything — from your car seats. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard stories from friends who’ve had their car windows smashed after leaving a work bag, sunglasses, or any other potentially costly item in plain sight. But it’s not only big ticket possessions that can draw the eye of a thief — if possible, take everything out of your car and stash any necessary, must-have items in the glove compartment or trunk. 
  4. Circle until you find a well-lit parking spot. My neighborhood is fortunately pretty well lit, but my boyfriend’s town is pretty much in a perpetual blackout after sundown. Even if it takes a few minutes longer, look for a parking spot that’s in as well lit and highly trafficked of an area as possible. 
  5. Install some tech tools. If you’re already a Metromile customer, congrats! The Smart Driving app and the Pulse device are built-in trackers that have helped countless customers locate their stolen vehicles. If you’re not a Metromile customer (maybe now’s the time to switch?) and/or you want some added peace of mind, consider investing in some anti-theft technology like an immobilizer that can help prevent hot wiring by keeping the engine from running without the correct transponder car key. 
  6. Stay alert. Most of us are in the habit of immediately checking what we’ve missed in the news, on social media, or in our texts the second we park (if not before that!). But being aware of your surroundings when you exit your vehicle may help you sense if your surroundings feel unsafe and give you the opportunity to find a new spot before it’s too late. 

As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But for those times when the worst happens, and you need a car insurance partner who has your back — Metromile will be here.

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Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist, UC Berkeley alumna, and Metromile customer.

Metromile’s New Chief People Officer: Mark Gundacker

Meet Mark Gundacker, Metromile’s new Chief People Officer. Mark joins us from Salesforce.org, the non-profit arm of Salesforce, where he led its growth from 350 to 1,100 employees — and prior to that brings decades of Human Resources leadership experience.

As we continue to grow our team (now more than 320!) across multiple offices and geographies, we’re excited to have Mark’s steady hand ensure we’re finding and keeping the best talent and remaining a best place to work.

What attracted you to Metromile?

I liked that Metromile is a disrupter. Creating an innovative model in a traditional industry is exciting. After working for a number of different organizations, including in the non-profit space, I wanted to work somewhere that I felt I could be innovative and make an impact. After meeting with Metromile leadership, I felt strongly that this was the right place.

What People philosophy do you bring coming from a nonprofit environment?

After working with passionate team members in the non-profit space, I had a new appreciation for the importance of having team members aligned to a strong organizational mission. If the team shares a common objective and vision it is much easier to work through any inevitable challenges — and this is as true in insurtech as it is anywhere else.

What’s something you wish people knew about People Ops?

Once people get to know me well they always tell me, “I can’t believe you are in HR”. And I always want to say “Take an HR person out to dinner and see how much fun you have!” Without a doubt, some of the most passionate, creative and amazingly fun people I have ever been with have been my HR colleagues.

Your background includes a pretty diverse set of industries. What perspective does that give you?

The big thing it’s given me is insight into how different types of organizations and people solve problems. I find this varied background helpful in being able to look at issues from a number of different angles.

What are your interests outside of work?

I’m on a number of non-profit boards including the Contra Costa Child Abuse Prevention Council, Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano, and CISV — a program promoting peace education for children. Giving back has always been a big interest.

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Welcome, Mark! We’re excited to have you.

The Actual Cost of Car Ownership

If you made New Year’s resolutions this year, you might be one of the millions of others who resolved to save more money. It’s a reasonable goal, but it’s hard to save money if you don’t know what you’re spending on.

Take owning a car, for example. Many drivers focus mainly on their monthly loan or lease payment. Rideshare companies often herald their drivers earnings after deducting only the cost of gas. But both of these are reasonable tendencies, but ignore unavoidable — and very real — costs of owning a car.

Here, we’ll detail a few of those hidden costs and take a look at where you may be able to save.

Depreciation

(Not so) fun fact: depreciation is usually the biggest cost of car ownership. It’s also one we tend to ignore.

Everyone knows a car loses value as soon as you drive it out of the lot. But it probably loses value faster than you’d expect. After a year, it’ll likely lose around 20% of its value. After five years? More like 50% or more. The IRS counts the cost of car ownership at 58 cents per mile — a very large chunk of which reflects depreciation.

Some cars depreciate slower than others, and older cars depreciate at a slower rate, so if you’re serious about saving money, do your research before you buy. Otherwise, limit how much you drive and be sure to do regular maintenance on your vehicle.

Registration, fees, and taxes

By law, you’re required to keep your vehicle registered with your state. Usually, you have to renew your registration annually or every few years, depending on where you live. And the price can vary widely per state. For example, in Arizona, it can cost as little as $8 to register an automobile. In Florida: $225. 

And don’t forget about taxes, either. In addition to sales tax when you buy or lease a new or used vehicle, you may also have to pay a personal property tax, which is usually based on how much your car is worth (though it can depend on your state, county, and municipality). For example, in Boston, you pay $25 per $1,000 in vehicle value each year. 

Unfortunately, there’s no way to minimize these expenses. The best thing you can do is make sure you pay them on time so you’re not penalized.

Maintenance and repairs

It takes a lot to keep your vehicle running smoothly. Between oil changes, tire rotations, new tires, and other maintenance costs, it could cost you upward of $1,000 a year, depending on the age of your car and what work you can handle on your own. (This is not to mention occasional, larger repairs, like a transmission replacement.)

Fortunately, you may be able to do some routine maintenance yourself — or swap services with a friend who knows how. Just remember: maintenance keeps your car running, so it’s not something you want to ignore.

Insurance

Ah, insurance. Our sweet spot. Of course, car insurance costs vary widely based on a variety of factors, such as where you live, what type of car you drive, your driving history, and more. It can also depend on how much coverage you want. Broadly speaking, an average policy will range somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000 annually.

The good news here is that it’s easy to shop around for the best price. The extra good news is that a pay-per-mile option like Metromile gives you far more control over your total bill; on average, our customers save $741 per year.*

The total

It’s hard to estimate the total costs of owning a car, as it can vary widely depending on what kind of vehicle you drive, how many miles you drive each year, where you live, and more. Safe to say, though, that car ownership is an expense of several thousand dollars a year — which, if you’re investment minded, also carries a gigantic opportunity cost of lost earnings over a lifetime.

At the very least, this argues for exploring ways to trim those costs. Plain and simple, owning a car is super expensive—even if expenses are optimized. Might it be time to reconsider just how much you’re driving altogether?

In our next post, we’ll go into the ultimate way to cut costs: minimizing driving or getting rid of your car altogether.

*Average annual car insurance savings by new customers surveyed who saved with Metromile in 2018.

Jenna Lee is a content marketer, Oxford comma enthusiast, and cat lover living in the Bay Area. 

Common Causes of Car Breakdowns in the Winter

If the chaos of the holiday season wasn’t enough to get your stress level skyrocketing, perhaps a car breakdown in the middle of a snowstorm will do the trick? It’s hard to imagine too many travel snafus more inconvenient than an unforeseen vehicle issue during the dead of winter, but luckily, there are plenty of ways to prevent and resolve potential problems. Here’s what you need to know to help avoid a cold weather catastrophe.

A dead battery: Car batteries don’t produce a charge as effectively in cold weather, so it’s more likely in winter to encounter the stomach-churning scenario of turning your key in the ignition to no effect. To help prevent this issue, check your battery’s voltage before the temperatures dip too low. If your voltage is below 12.40 volts, it might be time to get a new battery.

Worn out tires: There are a ton of reasons to routinely check your tire pressure, but many drivers just, well, don’t. In addition to ensuring a longer tire life, proper inflation can contribute to a better steering response, better fuel efficiency, and an overall smoother ride. And since overinflation can cause just as much damage as underinflation (think: treadwear and tire failure), knowing how to gauge the right amount is crucial. Checking the tread of your tires is critical too, so make sure you monitor tire pressure and tread before the weather turns too chilly or the roads get icy. You may be able to get a good sense of the shape of your tires by using one simple tool: a penny

Thickened fluids: Fluids thicken in cold temperatures, and that includes all the motor oil and other liquids in your car that allow it to run smoothly. If the fluids become too thick, they won’t be able to flow through the vehicle, and your car may even overheat. Keep up with your regular oil changes and if you’re unsure whether the fluids in your car are suitable for cold temps, visit a mechanic for some advice. 

Accidents on the road: Yes, accidents can happen any time, anywhere, but wet roads are responsible for the huge amount of weather-related crashes. Be extra vigilant behind the wheel and maybe consider an alternate mode of transportation (or working from home or skipping the social gathering) if winter weather gets too rough. Stick with Metromile to insure you against winter disaster. And keep an eye on out for more advice on staying safe and saving major money.

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Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist, UC Berkeley alumna, and Metromile customer.

Metromile 101: Pay-Per-Mile Billing

About four out of five Americans have not heard of pay-per-mile car insurance, which could be costing them hundreds of dollars a year in missed savings. From those that have, we’re regularly asked a few common questions. Among them: just how does a pay-per-mile bill work?

No worries — we’ve got a primer for you right here. In future posts, we’ll be tackling some more common pay-per-mile misconceptions,so stay tuned!

Are there mileage caps? Do I buy an amount of miles ahead of time?

Short answer: There are no caps, mileage plans, or prepaid buckets. You’re in control, and you can drive as few or as many miles as you’d like!

Longer answer: Though you might like how your bill looks better if you stick to fewer miles, we don’t impose any mileage caps or maximums. During the sign-up process, we generally offer examples of what kind of bill you can expect based on estimates about your driving habits — but you are not committing to any miles, and your estimates don’t impact your rate.

Instead, think of it like an electric bill. There are no penalties for driving too much, no rollovers, and no limits to keep track of. We offer you a measure of control by billing per-mile, but you only pay for miles you drive. 

By the way, you can still go on road trips if you have pay-per-mile car insurance. All miles over 250 miles in a single day (or 150 if you live in New Jersey) are free, so you don’t have to ever worry about blowing up your budget with a long trip.

How does the base rate work?

Our savvier customers may have noticed that not 100% of their bill is made up of the per-mile rates; there’s also a low “base rate” included. While you pay your per-mile rate for miles driven in the previous month, your base rate is forward-looking — that is, you pay it in advance for the month to come.

Here’s how it works: You’ll pay your base rate to sign up. Then, at the end of your first month, you’ll be charged for your mileage from that first month and a base rate for the upcoming second month. Same thing the month after that: a base rate to cover the upcoming month, and a per-mile charge for the month that just passed.

The two parts of your bill join together to make one convenient monthly charge. Most of our customers save quite a bit by paying this way!

What rates can I expect?

Our billing model is unique, but our rates are personalized based on a variety of factors and the coverage options you select; this will feel really familiar if you’re used to getting a custom rate from another insurer.

That’s it for today. We’ll soon take a look at another common question: how we measure miles driven. Keep an eye out.

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Julianne Sawyer is a freelance writer, app producer, and real-life Metromile customer living in the San Francisco Bay Area.