Is Pay-As-You-Drive Auto Insurance Worth It?

By Andrea Cannon on 9 January 2017 0 comments

Don't drive much throughout the year? Your wallet may be in luck, in more ways than one. Pay-as-you-drive car insurance plans (also known as usage-based car insurance plans) can provide a money-saving solution for drivers who don't drive often. Each month, your rate will vary based on how much you drive. The less you drive, the more you'll save.

How Does the Plan Work?

These unique auto insurance options work a bit like pay-per-minute cellphone plans, where you're only charged for what you use. In order to accurately determine how much you're driving, you will receive a small wireless device that plugs into your vehicle's OBD-II port. This will alert your insurance company to how many miles you drove, so they can determine your monthly bill.

Who Qualifies?

Pay-as-you-go insurer Metromile estimates that if you drive less than 200 miles per week, you can save money with their pay-per-mile insurance plans. They also found that if you drive less than 5,000 miles a year, you could pay 40%–50% less than you would with a traditional insurance plan. In fact, they estimate that 65% of drivers are overpaying for their insurance. These types of plans are especially beneficial to drivers who don't drive very often and people who are paying high insurance rates due to their age or credit history.

How the Pricing Works

Once you enroll, you will pay a low monthly base rate, plus a charge per mile of driving. Through Metromile, if you drive more than 150 miles per day (or 250 per day in Washington), you won't be charged for the extra miles above the cap, which means you won't overpay on a long trip. Other factors can also affect your rate, including age, vehicle, and driver history.

How Much Can You Save?

Many drivers will limit their coverage in order to save money when they don't drive often. However, this can end up costing you more in the end if you do get in an accident. Instead, a pay-as-you-drive plan can provide the coverage you need and save you money every month.

Some insurers claim that you will save anywhere from 20%–50% on your premium, and certain providers will even offer an immediate discount just for installing the tracking device to your vehicle's onboard diagnostics port. You can get an accurate idea of how much you can save by comparing your current auto insurance costs to what you would spend using a simple plan, like those that Metromile offers.

As an example, we will use Metromile's estimate of $46 per month, which includes a $30 flat monthly rate and 500 miles driven x $0.032 per mile. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the national car insurance average rate is just over $900 per year for a single driver. Compared to the $552 per year that you would spend on pay-as-you-drive plans, you'll save about $350 per year if you drive 500 miles per month, on average.

Who Offers It?

Progressive, Allstate, State Farm, Travelers, Esurance, Nationwide, The Hartford, Safeco, American Family, and GMAC are some of the bigger insurance companies that offer these types of plans, but many have additional stipulations. For instance, Progressive also monitors what type of driver you are by also collecting information about how hard you brake, how much you accelerate, and your driving patterns. Insurance companies like Metromile only monitor how many miles you are driving.

Is It Right for You?

Along with deciding whether to sign up for this type of plan, you will also need to find the right insurance provider. Sites like carinsurance.com can help you determine what type of discount you can expect, what's measured, and what's available in your state.

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