Pay Per Mile Car Insurance – How Pay-Per-Mile Car Insurance Works?

Have you ever felt like you’re overpaying for car insurance when you barely drive most months? Does it seem unfair that a neighbor who racks up way more miles pays the same premium as you?

Pay-Per-Mile Car Insurance

If this sounds familiar, then it may be time to explore pay-per-mile auto insurance – an innovative option charging premium based on actual usage rather than fixed factors.

This article breaks down exactly how pay-per-mile billing works, who stands to benefit most, what to know before signing up, and tips for finding the best rate plans aligning tightly with your individual driving habits. Curious if you could be saving money this way? Read on for full details.

Pay Per Mile Car Insurance

Pay-per-mile insurance represents a more customized form of auto insurance where your monthly payments derive directly from driving habits and exposure – specifically the number of miles driven – rather than variables like age, location and driving history.

Here’s a simple example to illustrate the difference:

With conventional car insurance, two similar drivers pay the same standard premium whether they drive 5,000 miles annually or 15,000 miles, despite sharply varying risk.

However, under pay-per-mile billing, Driver A driving less would pay lower total premiums aligning with their limited mileage. Driver B racks up more miles so pays higher premium charges reflecting heightened accident exposure.

In this way, pay-per-mile insurance bases premiums predominantly on mileage as the key proxy for risk. Lower mileage means lower insurance costs over a year.

In short, it’s auto insurance billing aligned to actual mileage rather than fixed demographic factors. Pay-per-mile insurance offers an innovative way for lower-mileage drivers (typically motorists driving less than 7,500 miles annually) to pay premiums fairly matching individual driving habits and risk levels. For light users, the savings from aligning premiums tighter to exposure can be substantial over multiple policy terms.

Who Might Benefit from Pay Per Mile Car Insurance?

This innovative model especially suits lower mileage motorists driving no more than around 7,500 miles annually according to insurers like AllState. Light users get fairly priced premiums rather than overpaying at fixed demographic rates. Perfect if you:

  • Work from home more now or commute via public transport
  • Moved closer to errand destinations like grocery stores
  • Share vehicles with family members or don’t own a car currently

Urban residents who walk/bike locally while occasionally renting vehicles also profit from pay-per-mile insurance occasional topping up personal coverage when driving.

Meanwhile, those tallying over 10,000 miles each year are generally better off sticking to conventional pricing. Pay-per-mile loses savings potential for more frequent road users.

How Pay Per Mile Car Insurance Works?

Getting set up with pay-per-mile insurance involves a few key steps:

#1. Choose a Provider

Most major insurers now offer pay-per-mile policies including Progressive, AllState and StateFarm. Compare their mileage plans and pricing in your state.

#2. Install Telematics Tracker

You’ll receive a small monitoring device to self-install in your car typically plugging into the OBD-II port under the dashboard. Newer cars may have built-in connectivity.

Drive as Normal! Don’t worry – you aren’t being graded on performance! Just drive normally while the device silently tracks miles driven to calculate your eventual premium.

#3. Pay Base Rate + Per-Mile Fee

Receive a bill for that policy term covering the base rate (usually $20-$40 monthly) plus a per-mile rate (5-15 cents is typical) multiplied by miles tracked. This is often cheaper than conventional premiums if you drive fewer than 7,500 miles annually.

#4. Monitoring and Transmitting Driving Details

As you motor about your regular routines, the device transmits driving details to the insurance provider. Don’t worry – insurers pledge not to assess performance or share telematics data. It’s just used internally to derive mileage totals capped by data privacy best practices.

Receiving Monthly Pay-Per-Mile Bill Every billing cycle, your insurer tallies up miles driven and bills you a base rate (say $30/month) plus a per-mile fee (usually 4-12 cents/mile) for usage that period. So costs directly rise or fall based on driving frequency.

For instance, 1,000 miles that month at 10 cents/mile would mean $100 in variable charges atop the flat rate. Lower mileage = lower overall premium.

Pros of Pay Per Mile Car Insurance

Drilling deeper, what are the tangible upsides motivating low-mileage motorists to try out pay-per-mile insurance?

  1. Significant Savings Potential

This usage-based model allows lighter drivers to finally pay premiums actually aligning with individual risk profiles. Consumer Reports shares how an 5,000 mile/year driver could save $500 annually vs traditional insurance. Over multiple years, that’s substantial money saved from fairer premiums.

  1. Incentivizes Smarter Driving

Knowing unnecessary trips directly raise insurance costs, pay-per-mile billing incentivizes more mindful driving behavior like:

  • Consolidating errands into fewer outings
  • Sometimes walking/biking shorter trips
  • Carpooling with others
    Such incentives organically reduce mileage and insurance costs over time while benefiting the environment too through lower emissions.
  1. Fairer Pricing Model Overall
    In general, pay-per-mile insurance charges motorists more proportionately based on actual road exposure. A light user isn’t effectively subsidizing high-mileage counterparts underwriting higher accident risks. Nor does driving history outweigh mileage. Ultimately it’s about matching premiums tightly to individual driving habits at any given period.

Cons and Limitations of Pay Per Mile Car Insurance

Like any system though, pay-per-mile billing isn’t without some limitations interested policy shoppers should note:

  1. Higher Upfront Costs

Choosing pay-per-mile means paying installation and sometimes monthly costs for the necessary telematics tracking device. This averages around $100-$150 upfront plus potential recurring fees of $10 or higher. Make sure long term mileage savings outweigh extra costs.

  1. Ongoing Privacy Concerns

Despite insurance providers maintaining driving data confidentially, many motorists feel uncomfortable about constant mileage monitoring and even location tracking. While vehicle telematics continue advancing, sensitivity around privacy issues remains.

  1. Not Ideal for High Mileage Drivers
    Generally, insurers acknowledge pay-per-mile premiums losing cost advantage around 7,500+ miles annually. So high mileage drivers shouldn’t expect major savings relative to fixed pricing models. Carefully compare options before deciding which approach saves more based on your driving needs.

How Do I Find the Best Pay Per Mile Car Insurance Rates?

As when shopping traditional insurance, premiums for pay-per-mile plans vary notably across states and insurers. USAA notably charges an affordable 3 cents per mile. Industry leader Progressive starts at 8 cents per mile but offers discounts like for low mileage and multi-policy bundling.

Like with any insurance, premiums for pay-per-mile policies vary between providers and states.

Follow these tips to secure the best value pay-per-mile policy:

Tips 1. Compare multiple insurers

Compare quotes from at least 5 major insurers plus smaller players specifically targeting pay-per-mile coverage like Metromile. Run the numbers accounting for total costs like fees and the per-mile rate difference.

Tips 2. See if you qualify for other discounts – 

Check if you qualify for additional discounts atop pay-per-mile savings based on criteria like affinity group membership or insuring multiple vehicles. People matching certain demographics like students, affinity group members or loyal customers may access further discounts atop pay-per-mile savings.

Tips 3. Consider higher deductibles – 

Accepting higher out-of-pocket deductible payments despite the risk. In the event of a covered claim helps shrink premiums further. . For instance, raising your deductible from $500 to $1000 could shave 15% or more from the base premium.

Just ensure you have sufficient rainy-day savings to cover the gap amount in a worst-case scenario.

Tips 4. Ask about multi-policy bundles – 

If you buy homeowners or renters coverage from the same insurer, expect even lower car insurance rates thanks to bundled policy perks.


The fact is Pay-per-mile insurance offers a fairer and often cheaper way to pay for coverage based on driving habits rather than fixed demographic factors.

For low mileage drivers, there’s sizable long-term savings on the cards from going this route. Just ensure you thoroughly assess upfront device/installation costs and fine print exclusions before signing up.

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