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If you're a low-mileage driver, UBI auto insurance could be a great way to save money.
UBI — or usage-based insurance — is a modern take on car insurance. Rather than using traditional rating factors unrelated to your driving behavior, UBI uses telematics devices to track your driving habits and assigns premiums based on this data. Driving safely — avoiding high speeds, hard braking, or late-night driving — can earn you a discounted premium. Although usage-based car insurance is a relatively recent phenomenon, several companies have emerged at the forefront of this market.
While many companies use telematics devices to assign pricing, these providers aren't necessarily pure UBI insurers. These telematics-based programs are optional add-ons to traditional insurance policies available in some states. Two of the most popular UBI companies are Root and Metromile. While these UBI companies differ in how their car insurance premiums are calculated, they embody usage-based auto insurance most closely.
Founded in 2016, Root offers a new take on auto insurance. According to Root, car insurance pricing should be based on your driving behaviors above all else. If you’re a safe driver but are paying more for car insurance because of your age or credit score, you might be able to find some savings through Root.
Unlike other standard insurers, who might charge higher premiums based on demographics alone, Root may deny coverage or raise rates based on your driving behavior. Risky driving behavior may include sharp turns, late braking, and frequent night driving.
In theory, usage-based insurance isn’t ideal for drivers who exhibit risky driving behaviors. If you’re not a risky driver on paper, i.e., no accidents and great credit, the standard car insurance model might suit your needs. If you're an inexperienced driver with poor credit or other disqualifying factors, Root might be worth checking out.
Although Root assigns premiums differently than do traditional insurers, it offers familiar coverage options. Root allows for multiple vehicles, drivers, and claims solutions.
Root insurance is currently available in Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah, with more geographic coverage soon to come.
Metromile combines standard car insurance and usage-based insurance. Metromile's auto insurance premiums are broken down as such:
If your base profile is $30 and you drove 400 miles at 6 cents per mile, your monthly premium would be $54. While Metromile uses telematics technology to track miles driven, it functions as pay-per-mile car insurance.
Your mileage is tracked through a device called Metromile Pulse. This device plugs into your vehicle’s OBD-II port. Metromile's pay-per-mile system considers only mileage, so driving behavior is not accounted for in your rates.
Because monthly mileage is utilized to determine premiums, Metromile is a great option for low-mileage car insurance consumers. Although driving history is factored into the base rate, Metromile doesn't specifically cater to safe drivers.
Metromile is available in California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.
In theory, paying only for the miles you drive based on how you drive is a great idea. In practice, there could be some hiccups. The only way to answer this question is to test it out yourself. Root allows you to complete the test drive period and get an estimate before committing. If Metromile is available in your state, you can get a quote by providing a rough estimate of your monthly mileage.
If you’re interested in learning more about telematics, usage-based insurance, or car insurance in general, see our additional articles below.