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Metromile Auto Insurance Review
Metromile offers pay-per-mile car insurance that leverages technology to help low-mileage drivers save money. Traditional insurers charge customers a flat monthly premium for coverage regardless of how many miles they drive, but the average American now drives only about 13,476 miles each year. Signing on to a pay-per-mile plan can increase the control and transparency you have over your monthly bill. Metromile CEO Dan Preston explains the benefit of Metromile insurance this way: “Low-mileage drivers — an overwhelming majority of Americans — no longer pay too much for their insurance to subsidize the few who drive considerably more.”
Metromile works by breaking your monthly premiums into two components: a base rate and a per-mile rate. When you sign up to begin your coverage, Metromile will ship you a small device called the Metromile Pulse that is designed to plug into your car’s OBD-II port (usually right underneath your dashboard) and track your miles driven during the month. Each month that follows, you will be billed for a base rate plus the rate determined by how many miles you’ve driven. (This mileage is capped at 250 miles per day, and 150 in New Jersey, so an occasional road trip won’t kill your budget.)
When your policy renews, Metromile can take into account the information it received based on your driving, so if you’re a super safe driver (something Metromile primarily judges by miles driven, claims, and other factors), you can save big — but if you are a higher-mileage driver, you may not save at all. We recommend requesting a quote to see whether Metromile can help you save; just know that you’ll be trading extra personal data for these savings, and keep in mind that Metromile has questionable performance when it comes to customer service.
Metromile prides itself on offering car insurance that allows you to “Drive Less. Save More On Car Insurance.”
Is it true?
For a lot of customers, yes, but your savings will mostly depend on you.
Just like other insurance companies, Metromile determines your initial rate by looking at factors that affect your riskiness, like your accident history and your claims history, to arrive at your premium. However, unlike those of traditional insurance companies, Metromile’s rate is broken into two components: the base rate and the variable, per-mile rate. If you have a clean record, you could see a base rate as low as $29 and be charged just pennies per mile driven.
For example, an initial quote may look something like this: $29 base rate and $0.06 per mile, which would produce this monthly bill:
$29 + ($0.06 x 1,123) = $96.38*
And drivers who drive less can save more:
$29 + ($0.06 x 500) = $59*
*Sample rates taken from Metromile’s website. Your own base quote and per-mile rate will vary.
Once you begin driving, your monthly rate largely depends on how much you drive, and it can be affected by other factors, such as your location. Metromile reported that it was able to save its users an average of $741 per year, but it’s important to keep in mind that these were new customers.
Pay-per-mile insurance can offer a unique opportunity for discounts, and rates will mainly vary based on miles driven and major life changes (like moving and getting married) but it’s important to note that Metromile has access to more than just your miles driven. As you drive, the Pulse receives feedback on how you’re driving. Metromile spokesperson, Rick Chen, told us: “In some states, we may look at driving behavior, but it’s not widespread yet. Most drivers are good drivers, and as a result, they generally receive a lower rate on renewal.” This use of the data Metromile collects is included in the Pulse device’s terms and conditions.
- In business since: 2011
- A.M. Best financial strength rating: Not rated
- Policy types: Car insurance
- Pros: Pay-per-mile pricing, tech-driven
- Cons: Privacy concerns, low customer satisfaction
- States available: Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington
Savings available for safe, low-mileage drivers
While traditional insurers generally offer fixed discounts to users, like a 5% discount for bundling policies, to help bring down their premiums, Metromile allows its customers to earn personalized savings by driving safe and driving less. The Metromile website reports that new customers save an average of $741 per year, and that users who drive just under 2,000 miles annually save an average of $947 per year.
It’s important to remember that rates differ from person to person and will also depend on the level of coverage you choose, but Metromile is a great starting point if you don’t use your car every day.
If you’re looking for an auto insurer that is actively working to use technology to improve your experience and save you money, Metromile is an attractive insurer to look into. Unlike traditional insurers, which give a set monthly premium based on users’ self-reported mileage estimation, the Metromile Pulse device provides added transparency to your monthly cost.
We spoke with a company spokesperson, Rick Chen, who told us that that even Metromile’s claims experience is tech-driven. It leverages an artificial intelligence platform called AVA to help users get fast, helpful service. “Some claims you can make and get paid out within one minute,” Chen explained. This comes from the AI’s ability to analyze the data directly from your Pulse device to verify whether impact sustained is consistent with your claim. Chen contrasted this with traditional methods of verifying a claim, which can require repeated phone calls to help establish consistency in your answers.
Unique app perks
The Metromile app is not only useful for insurance purposes; connected with your Pulse device, it also gives you insights into other aspects of your driving, like where you park and how to avoid street sweeping (currently available in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco). The app features:
- Parking locator that uses your Pulse to help you find your car*
- Car diagnostics, like decoding check engine light messages
- Street sweeping alerts in select cities*
- Trip optimization to help give you insights into your driving routes*
*Requires that you have location turned on.
Metromile has received a lot of rave reviews when it comes to savings, but very few of these reviews mention going through the claims process, where some customers have reported long wait times to speak with a customer service representative. Data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners showed that Metromile received more complaints than expected for its market share in 2018. But in a growing, tech-driven insurance company, things can change quickly, so we spoke with a company spokesperson, Rick Chen, about Metromile’s current customer service and claims process.
Chen emphasized the role of AVA, the company’s AI platform, in delivering a smooth experience for the customer. He explained that AVA can deliver relevant resources from Metromile’s help center to users so that fewer people need the customer service line. In fact, he says, “Most of our customers have actually been helped before they even need to call in.” As this system continues to improve, this could help move Metromile’s customer complaints ratio in a more favorable direction.
Another concern among some customers has been rate hikes. There are plenty of reasons why an insurer may increase your rate, such as policy changes, but this could also be due to the data Metromile is getting about your driving habits from the Pulse device. If you’re concerned about customer service or a fluctuating rate, you may be better off with a traditional insurer.
As insurance becomes more intertwined with technology, the dependability of that technology gets even more important. In the case of Metromile, the responsibility of making sure that the Pulse device is able to function effectively falls to the user. There are grace periods available if your Pulse device malfunctions or must be unplugged for service, and Metromile will alert you if the Pulse has lost connection, but it is a consideration that doesn’t come with traditional insurance. Users have reported issues with the device draining on an old or weak battery in an unused car, but this shouldn’t be an issue in most circumstances. This is likely only a concern for low-milage users that may be looking to pay-per-mile insurance as coverage for a vehicle that sits unused for long periods of time. If your car battery dies, causing the Pulse to disconnect, Metromile will no longer be able to verify how many miles you have driven, and some customers have reported this triggering a 150-mile charge per day.
Depending on how you feel about sharing data, the connectivity of the Metromile Pulse could be a neutral side effect of saving money, or it could be a downside to being insured with Metromile. As modern consumers, we may have several devices on us at all times tracking our location, but it’s important to weigh the benefits and costs of sharing even more of your personal data. The data Metromile collects can be used to verify your claim and tailor your insurance rate based on how much you drive.
Metromile does offer you certain controls over your data. According to Chen, disabling access from the app to use your location does not affect your billing, and the device is still able to accurately calculate miles driven, but you will lose the ability to take advantage of the other location-based perks of your app, like the parking finder.
*Customer complaints are registered by the NAIC and measured relative to the company’s market share.
Metromile vs. Root
Metromile and Root are both tech-focused car insurance companies, but one of the main differences is the way they determine rates. While Metromile uses information about your history to generate an initial quote and then charges by miles driven, Root relies on a test drive to determine your flat monthly rate. Root is also more widely available than Metromile, and it is still growing. While Metromile has a higher amount of customer complaints than expected for its size, measured by the NAIC, Root’s complaints were about expected for its size. We recommend comparing quotes from each insurer to decide which delivers the best value for your needs based on your initial drive test.
Metromile vs. Esurance
After Esurance was one of the first companies to bring car insurance online, Metromile was one of the first to leverage technology even further by offering pay-per-mile car insurance. Each insurer offers an impressive amount of online resources for users looking to manage their policy and file claims online, but they do offer different levels of financial security. Esurance is now owned by Allstate, meaning its policies are backed by the financial strength of the fourth-largest auto insurance company in the country. Metromile, on the other hand, underwrites its own policies and is currently not rated by A.M. Best for its financial strength. If that security is important to you, Esurance is likely a better bet.
Metromile vs. Amica
Metromile has an advantage for users looking for the potential to save big with customized discounts and AI-backed customer service. However, if you’re looking for a company whose reputation for customer service is well-established and if you’re open to working with a more traditional insurance company, it would be worth requesting a quote from Amica. Amica earned the No. 1 spot in J.D. Power’s 2019 Auto Claims Satisfaction Study — for the eighth year in a row.
Metromile Auto Insurance FAQ
If I’m insured with Metromile, is my car still insured while it is parked?
Yes. Metromile Insurance is charged by the mile, but your car is insured whether or not you’re driving it. Keep in mind that your Pulse device must be properly connected in order to receive an accurate mileage count, so driving your car regularly is recommended.
Which states is Metromile available in?
Metromile is currently available in eight states: Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. However, it is looking to expand.
How can I report a claim to Metromile?
You can report a claim to Metromile either through the app on your phone, online at claims.metromile.com, or by calling (888) 595-5485.
The Bottom Line
Metromile’s pay-per-mile insurance could help you save hundreds on your car insurance if you’re a safe, low-mileage driver living in one of the available states. If you are looking for a tech-driven, do-it-yourself experience, we recommend requesting a quote from Metromile to see whether it can deliver the best value for you.