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.

Taking Care of a Low-Mileage Car

When I look at my car, I sometimes get a little sad. There she sits, obediently parked all week long while I walk, bus, and rideshare past her. She sits through the summer months, collecting pollen and dust, and patiently withstands winter storms. When I do occasionally get behind the wheel, I cross my fingers and silently wish for a successful start of the ignition. My poor, garage-less car is going on 13 years of loyal service, and while I owe her longevity in part to my minimal driving habits, I can’t help but wonder if I’m doing everything I can to care for her.

If you also own a car that doesn’t see a ton of road time, you’ll want to know how to take care of your vehicle so that it stays in the best shape possible, even if you’re not driving it on a daily (or even weekly) basis. Here are the must-know tips:

1. Keep the gas tank full. This one was news to me: if you leave your car parked and idle for too long, the inside of the gas tank can actually start to accumulate moisture and rust. Even if you’re not commuting daily, always try to top off the tank with fuel, which will keep rust from forming and also free you up to readily hop in the driver’s seat for those infrequent trips. 

2. Keep it clean. As a native San Franciscan, I know first hand how tough it can be to secure a covered space for your vehicle. Garages are something of a hot commodity in my town, and as long as I’ve owned my current car, I haven’t had one. As you can imagine, the elements have been less than kind to her exterior. If you’re also stuck leaving your car outside, consider covering it, or at the very least, make sure to clean debris from the windshield wipers so that leaves and other objects don’t accumulate and potentially damage the drains, leading to an interior flood (trust me — I’ve been there). 

3. Drive it a few miles once in a while. No matter how much you pamper the exterior of your car, that internal battery will turn on you if you don’t give it love. That means driving your car at least once every few weeks to keep the battery charged and your car running correctly. 

4. Keep up with oil changes. Many of us think our cars require maintenance based on miles driven, but it’s really all about timing — even if your car is parked more often than not, the oil and additives under the hood are aging. Check what your owner’s manual recommends when it comes to oil changes and other types of maintenance, and stick to the schedule, even if you’re not taking any road trips or daily drives. 

5. Maintain your tires. Yes, items on the road can definitely harm your tires, but even something as seemingly harmless as the weather can affect your tire pressure. Keep a watchful eye on your tires and if you plan to keep your car in storage for an extended period of time, just make sure to inflate the tires the appropriate amount. 

Finally, if you’re a low-mileage driver, you might also consider pay-per-mile car insurance. We’re here to save you money and give you and your ride the best possible care.

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


A Q&A with our Customer (and Exotic Cat) Expert: Prentis Ginn

As Metromile’s Quality and Compliance Manager, Prentis Ginn wears a bunch of hats. The San Francisco Bay Area native holds a diverse set of responsibilities: liaising with regulators, implementing user feedback, and ensuring Metromile’s team members are delivering the best service possible. It’s a busy schedule, which Prentis has worked his way toward over nearly six years at the company, starting as a customer service agent and working his way up through quality assurance before taking on his current role. We asked him to offer a bit of insight into his world, both in and out of the office.

Tell us a little bit about your background.

I’m originally from the San Francisco Peninsula. I went to Chapman University in southern California and after graduating, I moved to New York City and worked for a fashion and design startup. Then I moved back to San Francisco to work for Metromile. 

What initially drew you to Metromile?

Every startup likes to say they’re “disrupting an industry.” Metromile was the first company I interviewed with where I actually believed that. I think I met with around ten people during my interview. Best decision I ever made. I immediately fell in love with my team.

How has your role evolved over your time there. 

Being here for almost six years, my role has definitely evolved over time. I was initially brought in to build out our customer experience team. That morphed into quality assurance and looking out for our CSAT and NPS (two core customer service metrics). Now, as a member of our Legal and Compliance team, I coordinate our regulator inquiries and administer our contract management system, and regulatory and compliance platform. 

What do you think makes Metromile so special?

It’s a unique business model. And the career opportunity is special — I’ve gotten to take on a number of different roles here that I might not have elsewhere.

Your first job at Metromile was Sr. Customer Experience Advocate, which involves talking to customers every day. How has this influenced your career path?

Having the ability to quickly process information, strong communication skills, and a genuinely empathetic mindset — these are qualities I’ve taken with me to other roles. This passion has enabled me to empathize with our customer’s position and think outside of regulatory requirements when communicating with various Departments of Insurance.

To those in customer-facing roles, my advice is: you know more about our customers than anyone else. If you see opportunities for improvement, speak up! You are the subject matter experts.

What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

I’m an exotic cat breeder…

Just kidding. 

However, I do have an exotic breed of cat called a Toyger. Other than that, I play Madden a lot. I play flag football on Saturdays with friends, I’m in five fantasy football leagues…I guess you can say I really like anything football-related. I’m a social butterfly, I’m always out and about on the weekends and I love carbs, sugar, and gluten.

Using Your Metromile Trip Tracker

There are plenty of reasons pay-per-mile makes sense for low-mileage drivers. But one unique feature that many potential customers — and even current customers! — don’t know about is our game-changing trip tracking feature. By tapping into the wealth of useful info provided by the Metromile Pulse device, you can actually keep track of how many miles you’re traveling, how much gas you’re using, your driving speed (or the speed of anyone else — like a teen driver), and more. 

First thing’s first: let’s get to know the Metromile Pulse device. This little tech tool packs a powerful punch, relying on something called telematics to send, receive, and store information related to your car. By combining GPS navigation and onboard diagnostics, your Pulse device can show you where your car is, the trips it’s taken, and your fuel use, as well as send traffic alerts, help you get roadside assistance, and more. But it’s that trip tracking feature (found on the second tab at the bottom of your Metromile app screen) that’s a true hidden gem. Here are some ways to make the most of your Metromile trip tracker:

Make better commuting choices

Whether you use your car for occasional work meetings or you’re driving to your parents’ house to do laundry on a weekly basis (guilty), your Metromile trip tracker will show you where you’ve been, how many miles you drove, the time you spent in the car, and the fuel cost.

If you check your trip tracker and notice that you’re making a lot of unnecessary trips that are impacting your fuel budget, you can start making informed changes that help support your financial goals. And if you take stock of your trips and notice that you’re spending more time in the driver’s seat than you’d like, you might try swapping in a walk, bike, rideshare, or public transportation ride to find more minutes in for work and/or play (and less time behind the wheel) throughout the week.

Keep tabs on speed

The trip tracker lets you know how many miles you drove during a single trip and how long it took to drive those miles. If you have a teen or other driver on your plan who you’d like to keep an eye on, the trip tracker can give you insight into their behaviors so you can have important conversations about safety if necessary.

Or you might notice that your own lead foot is a bit heavier than you thought!

Compare your habits week to week

The trip tracker does a great job of record keeping. Using the navigation arrows at the top of the screen, you can swipe through previous weeks and see how your fuel costs and miles driven are trending.

Perhaps your gas spending has been increasing, but you can’t put your finger on why. Or perhaps you just needed a reminder that you used to walk to the store, and are still capable of doing that. Every person’s story is a little different; the main thing is having clear visibility into your habits when you haven’t previously.

Our pay-per-mile billing gives you control over the cost of your car insurance, and our trip tracker aims to give you a measure of control over your time, your spending, and your life stuck behind the steering wheel.

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


Safety Tips for Night Driving

Just before I got LASIK eye surgery a few years ago, I was informed that one place my newly improved peepers might not perform optimally was behind the wheel at night. And while it’s true that the procedure can create night vision distortions like light halos and glare, you don’t have to have surgically altered eyes to know that driving after dark can be an entirely different — and often dangerous — experience. 

Indeed, fatal accidents are three times more likely to occur at night than during the day. That of course doesn’t mean you need to avoid the roads once the sun sets, but it does mean it’s extra important to take precautions at night to keep yourself, your passengers, and others on the road as safe as possible. As we transition into the shorter days of winter, keep these nighttime driving tips in mind:

Keep things clean. The dirt and smudges on your windshield may not make much of a difference in your daytime drives, but those smears can result in blinding glare if oncoming traffic illuminates them just right. Make sure your windshield is crystal clear before you embark on a nighttime journey.

Aim your headlights. Did you know you can adjust the aim of the headlights in most cars? Get to know how before you hit the road in the dark. Some cars have built-in bubble levels that help you align your headlights correctly, while others require some manual adjustment. A mechanic may be able to help you here.

Prioritize rest. 60% of adult drivers — that’s about 168 million people — say they’ve driven a vehicle while feeling drowsy in the past year, and more than a third have actually fallen asleep at the wheel. Those are some scary stats! In addition to a good night’s sleep, avoiding trips between midnight and 6 a.m. is the best way to avoid drowsy driving.

Make your view as clear as possible. While your night vision will never be as good as your daytime sight, there are some easy measures you can take to ensure you’re getting the clearest view possible and reducing any glare: dim your dashboard, look away from oncoming lights, and if you have to wear glasses to drive, make sure they’re anti-reflective.

Staying alert and calm is part of keeping yourself safe and keeping insurance costs affordable. We can handle the rest by offering competitive, pay-per-mile car insurance rates.

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

What Factors Affect Gas Prices?

If you’ve ever pulled up to the pump and promptly freaked out over the price per gallon, you’re not alone. And sometimes it seems like that number can fluctuate wildly from week to week, or even day to day. So what gives? Here are some of the factors that are influencing the price of gas so you can have a better sense of what’s, er, driving costs:

  1. Crude oil costs. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, over 50 percent of the cost of gas is determined by the cost of crude oil — that is, oil right from the ground. The biggest determinants of these prices are supply and demand — so when production goes up, prices may go down, and vice versa. A lot of this is influenced by the economy, so you may notice that when the economy is doing well, demand for crude oil is boosted, and gas prices change too. 
  2. Taxes. They may not play a starring role in the price of gas (in September 2019, they were responsible for about 19 percent of the average American price of $2.59 per gallon), but taxes matter a ton. Taxes can also partially explain why the cost of gas varies so significantly from state to state. While the federal tax rate charged at every gas station across the U.S. is the same, each state sets its own individual tax rates, meaning some charge sales tax while others tack on environmental fees and other costs.   
  3. Distribution and marketing. You may not think of gas stations as supreme masters of sly marketing tactics, but brand appeal and distribution significantly influence the price of gas (playing about a 15 percent role in the overall cost). Even the assortment of brand-name snack items in the service station can affect the amount you pay at the pump!
  4. Location. As we mentioned with taxes, where you fill your gas tank matters. But taxes are just part of the picture. Other factors, like the distance from the original supply, retail competition, operating costs, and any disruptions to the supply can all factor into the price. If there’s a hurricane that hits the U.S., for example, that sort of natural disaster can cause refinery shutdowns or transportation issues that affect the supply and drive up costs. 

While there’s not a lot you can do about your state’s tax situation or the price of crude oil, understanding the factors that contribute to the price at the pump may help you better prepare for fill-ups. Of course, all these factors only affect the sticker price of each gallon. The number of gallons used is the part you control. Hopping on a bike, the bus, an e-scooter, or relying on your own two feet are great ways to save on gas.And, we must add, this choice can lead to savings for pay-per-mile car insurance customers, too. Get saving!

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

How I Drive: Pay-Per-Mile Pays Off for Weekend Warriors

Meet Jennifer: a city-dwelling marketing professional and bonafide weekend warrior. Jennifer doesn’t drive to work, and loves using the bus to get around — but jumps at the chance to get away on the weekends to explore California’s nooks and crannies. For that, she keeps a car, and her low-mileage habits make her a perfect fit for Metromile’s pay-per-mile car insurance model.

How long have you been a Metromile customer?

It’s been about 3 years now.

Must be a good fit.

I work in downtown Oakland, and I live not too far away. It’s an easy bus ride to work, so I just don’t drive that many miles during the week.

Do you know offhand how many miles you drive a month?

Let’s put it this way: I’ve gotten that notification in the past that asks “Have you driven your car?” I joke that I can check my mileage and tell whether I’ve gone to the gym or not, because that’s the one place I always drive. If I haven’t driven anywhere I know I’ve been skipping my workout.

What do you use your car for?

I do sometimes use my car for everyday errands, grocery shopping and things like that. But what I really like to do is take advantage of where we live in California. You can get to the mountains and the beach and the country in thirty minutes. I do a lot of weekend trips, and use my car for that.

I drove to Los Angeles last weekend. I also go to the Russian River sometimes — that’s only an hour and a half away and a completely different world from the city.

It sounds like driving is about freedom for you rather than the everyday.

I really like the option to be able to get up and go when I want to. I love walking and taking the bus. (And I enjoy telling people I use public transportation, too. It’s my tax dollars at work!)

And I don’t like driving a long way to work. I’ve changed jobs many times, and every time I have a whole system: if I can’t get there within thirty minutes of driving or one hour on transit I won’t do it. I don’t care how much they pay me.

At the same time I like having the option to say, “You know what, it’s a Saturday afternoon. Let’s pick up some sandwiches, get in the car, and just go.

I go with my boyfriend, my sister, friends. I like coming up with something new: “There’s a new speakeasy, let’s go there.” Or “There’s a taqueria in a town we’ve never been to.” I like being able to just explore a new place.

Have you considered selling your car?

I’m very much a city person. But the thing is, it’s hard to get away without that car. With something like Metromile it’s more affordable to own a car and keep it in decent shape than it is to rent a car for a weekend trip.

I’d rather have it conveniently there when I need it rather than have to think about it. My car is a little Scion, a 2014 model with super low mileage. Every time I take it into the shop people are amazed at the low mileage. I probably won’t need to replace it for a while.

Do you use any of the Metromile app features?

Definitely! There’s a running joke with a friend. We go to the movies and I will sometimes drive there if the movie goes past when transit runs. They sweep the streets at night near that theater and my friend will ask if I got the street-sweeping notification.

I’ve also used the app to find my car. I’ll forget about that feature until I lose my car and then remember it’s built in with my insurance. It’s very handy.

It makes life easier?

Yes! Because of the work I do, I’m hyper aware of products I use — I always ask myself, is this is a good customer experience? That’s what I really like about Metromile. Everything’s really easy. Insurance isn’t my first language but it’s broken down so easily; all the info I need is right there in front of me.

Actually trying to please your customers should not be above and beyond, but it’s shocking how many companies don’t do that.

What is an Insurance Credit Score?

Credit: one of those oft-stressful adult considerations that we were blissfully ignorant of as children. Besides being useful when buying a car, house, or securing any other type of loan, did you know that credit is sometimes a factor in your car insurance premium? One key difference: your insurance credit score is not the same as the consumer credit score you might be more familiar with. 

If you’re scratching your head at this one, well, you’re not alone. Today we’re covering what an insurance credit score is, how it affects your car insurance rate, and how it differs from your consumer credit score.

What is an insurance credit score?

In short, an insurance credit score is a number that helps auto insurance companies predict how likely you are to have a future accident or insurance claim. This three-digit number calculated using information from your credit report, such as the age of your credit history and how many accounts you have in good standing.

How does this number differ from my consumer credit score?

Many consumers believe they have one true credit score, but this actually isn’t the case. Instead, there are several scoring models that each produce different numbers. This means your FICO score won’t exactly match your TransUnion Vantage 3.0 score (to use two common models), even though both are built from the data on your credit report.

Your insurance credit score will be different still; it also starts with your credit data but crunches the numbers differently to focus on factors that are important to insurers. Comparing a consumer credit score to an insurance credit score is comparing apples to oranges––they’re quite different and may not even use the same scale to display results. It would be a very big coincidence if the scores matched exactly!

How does my insurance credit score affect my car insurance premiums?

It’s tough to speak in absolutes when it comes to credit; every driver is different, your insurance credit score is just a small piece of the puzzle, and not all states allow insurers to consider credit history (notably, California does not allow it). But it definitely can impact rates.

According to The Zebra’s The State of Auto Insurance Report for 2019, drivers with poor credit scores (579 or less) have an average insurance premium of just under $3,000, while drivers with exceptional credit scores (800 or higher) pay only about $1,250 on average — a 58% savings. Improving your credit score several tiers, such as from fair to excellent, can lower your rates by up to 70%.

The Bottom Line

Remember, a credit score is just a shorthand that speaks to your credit history. And there are several different versions of these shorthands!Our goal at Metromile is to give our customers — with poor credit, great credit, and everything in between — greater control over their car insurance bill. By and large, they seem to appreciate it! Sound interesting? It only takes minutes to get your personalized quote.

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

What to Look for When Buying Used

Maybe you’ve agonized over the pros and cons of new versus used, or maybe the decision was clear from the start. No matter how you got here, you’re ready to invest in a vehicle that’s not quite new, but new to you. So now what?

Before you fork over your hard earned cash for a used ride, here are the things you need to consider:

  1. The state of the exterior. This may seem like a no-brainer, but taking careful inventory of the vehicle’s appearance is super important. Any used car is likely to show some signs of wear and tear, but if the vehicle you’re considering has uneven body panels, this should give you pause — it could indicate the car was in an accident but not expertly repaired. Areas of oversprayed or mismatched paint could also be red flags indicating that the previous owner attempted to fix and repaint the banged up car. You might want to open and close all the doors, roll the windows up and down, and see how easily the hood and trunk open and close.
  2. The state of the interior. When it comes to the interior, it’s a good idea to sit in all the seats — not just the driver’s seat — and keep an eye out for upholstery tears. The general aroma matters too (no, you probably won’t find that coveted new car smell, but you also shouldn’t be getting a stale or musty scent, which could hint at water damage).
  3. The vehicle history. You can pretty much find out everything you’d ever want or need to know about your potential car’s past by running its vehicle identification number (VIN) through a paid service like CARFAX or AutoCheck. This is the way to find out if the car in question has ever been in an accident, has any liens on it, or if there are or have been any recalls on the model. This is also the way to find out if your vehicle has a salvage title.
  4. What’s happening under the hood. When the car is turned off, take a look at the engine and keep an eye out for fluid leaks, damaged hoses or belts, and corroded batteries.
  5. Hire a pro. Even the most seasoned car experts could use some expert guidance and approval before investing in a vehicle. Some issues are super obvious on sight, and others take a trained eye to uncover. Rather than take a risk, hire a mechanic to do a thorough inspection and confirm that all is well under the hood. The upside to any fixable issues the inspection report reveals: bargaining leverage that could score you a better deal.

And remember: now that you have the car of your dreams (or at least the one that will get you from point A to point B), you’ll need a car insurance plan that fits your lifestyle. The pay-per-mile insurance experts at Metromile can get you set up quickly with a free quote.

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

Car Insurance When Borrowing a Car — How Does it Work?

“Hey, can you run to the store for me real quick? You can use my car,” shouts your friend from across the room while tossing you the keys. As you hop in the driver’s seat, you break into a cold sweat. “What if I get into an accident? Will my insurance still cover me?” you mutter nervously to yourself as you shift the car into reverse.

Far and away, this is one of the most common concerns we hear from customers. Today, we’re breaking down what the basics of what you need to know when you borrow someone else’s car. Let’s get into it.

Does my car insurance cover me while driving someone else’s vehicle?

The general (general — not exhaustive!) rule of thumb is that car insurance follows the car, not the driver. Therefore, if you borrow a friend’s car, you would be covered under that friend’s car insurance policy up to the policy limits they chose. This is what’s known in the biz as “permissive use.”

It’s important to note that this counts for irregular and infrequent borrowing; if a friend drives your car to work every Tuesday, your insurance carrier may feel differently about it.

What about my mom/dad/sibling/roommate’s car?

Usually, driving-age family members who live together should all be on the same insurance policy, making it just fine to swap cars. If not, they should be formally excluded from each other’s policies; importantly, a driver is generally not covered by a policy they’re excluded from, meaning you should never loan your car to someone you’ve excluded.

Roommates who aren’t direct family members can fall in a gray area; it’s a good idea to check with your insurance carrier about what’s allowed, but usually you’ll want your roommate to either be listed on or excluded from your policy.

What is primary vs. secondary coverage?

When claims get complicated, insurance companies spend time working out who is primarily responsible — that is, taking point on paying out damages — and secondarily responsible — or kicking in only when the primary coverage is exhausted.

As we mentioned, if you give someone permission to drive your vehicle, your car insurance usually takes primary coverage status. If damage exceeds your coverage limits, the driver’s policy may take over as secondary.

Am I covered if I’m using a borrowed car for business?

Here’s where things get sticky.

Some vehicles are covered by commercial policies for business use, but it gets complicated when a car is borrowed or swapped around for a use that’s out of the ordinary, or if a personal vehicle is used for some kind of transportation service (eg, Uber, Lyft, Postmates). There are lots of ins and outs and exclusions when it comes to commercial use, so it’s worth doing your homework before borrowing a car in a situation like this. 

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We hope this helped demystify the insurance implications of borrowing a car! But remember: when in doubt, check the specifics of the car insurance policy in question before getting behind the wheel. If you have any lingering questions (or any questions at all, really), do get in touch. We’re here to help!

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