What is pay-by-the-mile car insurance?
Pay-per-mile car insurance is straightforward: you pay for what you drive. In many ways, it's a way for insurance companies to reward low-mileage drivers. To insurance companies, the more often you’re on the road, the more likely you are to get into an accident. Insuring drivers who keep their mileage low can help them save money and keep rates down.
Not every company offers by-the-mile auto insurance payment plans. While still a relatively new territory, a number of startups and major insurance companies alike are looking at expanding beyond traditional quotes to the pay-per-mile insurance market. Let’s explore the pros and cons of pay-per-mile car insurance as well as the companies offering it.
|Pay-per-mile doesn't work for:|
How does car insurance-by-mileage work?
Pay-per-mile car insurance policies use an in-car device to track the number of miles you drive per month in order to determine your rate. Your insurer charges a base rate plus a per-mile fee, which is used to calculate your premium. Your base rate consists of standard rating factors such as your driving history, age, gender and vehicle type.
While your annual mileage is a rating factor for determining your rate, it’s not a major contributor to your overall premium (unless you’re in California). Other non-driving factors such as your age and credit score have larger impacts on your rate than how much time you spend behind the wheel. While these non-driving factors are taken into account when pricing pay-by-the-mile auto insurance, they aren't weighed as heavily.
Which car insurance companies provide pay-per-mile coverage?
Pay-per-mile auto insurance is growing in popularity, with more major insurers offering by-the-mile rates. See below how a few of these mileage-based car insurance programs work.
Metromile uses two things to determine your rate: your driving profile and your monthly mileage. Your monthly driving mileage is calculated through “Metromile Pulse.” The company uses a wireless device that plugs into your vehicle’s OBD-II port to count the distance you drive. You can monitor your mileage through the Metromile app.
In addition to charging you based on the number of miles you drive, Metromile charges a monthly base fee. The base rate is determined by a driver's profile, so it’s hard to give an accurate estimate of Metromile rates. Because the number of miles you drive per month may vary, your bill may change by the month.
Esurance’s pay-per-mile system works a little differently than Metromile’s. Esurance isn’t a strictly pay-per-mile car insurance company. But the company offers a usage-based driving program in addition to a standard insurance option. Esurance advertises a program for low-mileage drivers specifically, with low-mileage drivers defined as those traveling fewer than 10,000 miles per year. Esurance’s pay-per-mile coverage is available in select states and excludes electric vehicles and hybrids.
Esurance's pay-per-mile insurance program uses a plug-in device in the OBD-II port to record your mileage and determine your per-mile fee. Your base rate is assigned based on your age, gender, driving history, and vehicle-specific information. If your mileage fluctuates, your bill will vary.
Nationwide's pay-per-mile auto insurance offering is designed for low-mileage drivers who have little or no commute who are looking to save on their insurance costs. A Smartmiles auto insurance policy is comprised of a base rate and a variable rate that is determined by how much you drive. Some of the features Nationwide offers include a discount for safe driving, a handy mobile app that works as a mileage-tracking odometer, and a road trip exemption in which only the first 250 miles count during a single day. Expect the common coverage types, including liability, comprehensive and collision coverages. This service is available in most states and compatible with most cars produced after 1996.
Allstate's Milewise operates similarly to other pay per mile auto insurance policies, using a base rate with an additional charge for each mile driven. Utilizing a plug-in device, Allstate Milewise determines your base rate in a similar manner to telematics, using your driving habits to inform your rate. The associated app allows you to track your mileage and even set weekly goals. This program is currently available in the following states: Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington.
Hugo Insurance is a newcomer in the space, but its insurance offerings are truly unique. The company is one of the first to claim to be able to sell insurance that you can switch on and off as you need it. Customers simply use the smartphone app to turn on coverage before taking a journey and turn it off when they are finished. Furthermore, they offer liability insurance for shorter amounts of time than most standard policies. Customers can purchase liability coverage in 3, 7, 14, or 30 days increments, allowing them to only pay for what they use. For now, availability is limited, as is its coverage (Hugo only offers liability at this time).
The company's business model certainly raises questions. For one, turning off insurance can leave you at risk if you park your car in a public area (such as a street). Also, it's unclear what happens if a driver simply forgets to turn their insurance on before heading out — though it appears that the driver simply wouldn't be covered. Furthermore, information on the company and its offerings is still rather limited, so many potential customers may wish to let the company mature before signing up.
Currently available in Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, and Oregon, Mile Auto is another newcomer to pay-per-mile insurance. The company claims to be able to save customers 30-40% compared to standard insurance rates. On top of standard liability and physical damage coverages, Mile Auto also offers additional coverages like rental vehicle reimbursement and roadside assistance.
More akin to a standard telematics company, Noblr Insurance indicates that the fewer miles you drive with a Noblr policy, the less you will pay. Along with mileage, the app tracks how and when you drive to arrive at your rates. Noblr is currently available in the following states: Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas with more states proposed for the near future.
How does pay-per-mile car insurance differ from telematics insurance?
Pay-per-mile and telematics-driven insurance policies are similar but use different metrics to calculate your premium. Pay-per-mile auto insurance does not take into consideration your driving habits or behaviors, while telematics auto insurance relies upon driving behavior metrics to assign your premium. A telematics device will track abrupt braking, sharp turns, high speeds, and late-night driving to assess the risk you present to your insurance company. By using this granular data, telematics offers a holistic examination of your driving profile.
Here are some estimated discounts you can possibly expect from telematics:
Is pay-per-mile car insurance worth it?
Pay-per-mile auto insurance is a solid money-saving option for those who drive only occasionally. Metromile advertises itself as a way to save you $500 per year, and Esurance promotes similar savings. If you’re a low-mileage driver who lives in an area with pay-by-the-mile insurance availability, it could be a solid option. Because Esurance offers both traditional and pay-per-mile insurance policies, you can easily access a side-by-side comparison of both rates to gauge which would be cheaper for you. Metromile offers pay-per-mile car insurance exclusively.
If you are simply looking for the best possible rate, shopping around is a good way to assess if pay-per-mile car insurance is worth it. The Zebra allows you to compare insurance products from a number of top insurance companies, giving you the chance to get multiple insurance quotes to see which plan is best for you. Take time to compare offerings such as full coverage and roadside assistance
Get personalized insurance rates in less than 5 minutes.
- Can You Share Car Insurance?
- Car Insurance with Telematics
- How to Get Car Insurance After a Policy Cancellation
- Summer Car Insurance
- The Consequences of Driving Without Insurance
- Turo Car Insurance
- What is Weekend-Only Car Insurance?
- What is a Named Driver Policy?
- Why is Car Insurance Mandatory?
- Winter Car Insurance
About The Zebra
The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.
The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
The Zebra’s insurance content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.