The Best Pay-Per-Mile Car Insurance Companies

Between your home office and delivery services, your car is probably getting used less often nowadays because of COVID-19 and working from home. It’s the perfect time to cut unnecessary costs like subscription services and commuting expenses.

Wouldn’t it be nice to pay for a service only when you used it? That’s exactly what usage-based auto insurance is. Getting low mileage insurance lets you pay less by only paying for the miles you use. It’s the perfect way to cut costs without getting rid of coverage.

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    Choosing the right car insurance can be a challenge. We used our SimpleScore methodology to help you pick the best low-mileage car insurance providers across the country. Our team looked closely at coverage options, affordability, support and accessibility to help narrow down our top picks.

    In this article

      The best pay-per-mile car insurance companies

      SmartMiles: Best online experience – Nationwide

      Nationwide is on your side with discounts and tools to make the road to better car insurance a smooth ride.

      J.D. Power Rating
      3/5
      AM Best Rating
      A+
      Standard & Poor’s
      AA+
      SimpleScore
      4.2 / 5.0
      close
      SimpleScore Nationwide 4.2
      Discounts 4
      Coverage Options 5
      Customer Satisfaction 3
      Support 5
      Accessibility 4

      SmartMiles by Nationwide offers the same coverage as a traditional Nationwide car insurance policy with the caveat that its rates adjust each month based on how much you drive. Some special features of Nationwide’s SmartMiles coverage include:

      • Safe driving discounts of up to 10% after the first renewal
      • A “Road Trip Exception” that only charges you for the first 250 miles you drive on any given day
      • Easy-to-use online tools that help you keep track of your mileage and monthly payments

      With the exception of a few hybrids and diesel engine vehicles, this pay-per-mile insurance can be used by all drivers with post-1996-model cars.

      Most affordable low-mile insurance – Metromile

      Looking for car insurance with rates as low as the number of miles you drive? Metromile is it.

      J.D. Power Rating
      N/A
      AM Best Rating
      N/A
      Standard & Poor’s
      N/A
      SimpleScore
      3.3 / 5.0
      close
      SimpleScore Metromile 3.3
      Discounts 1
      Coverage 3
      Customer Satisfaction N/A
      Support 4
      Accessibility 5

      With rates starting as low at $29 per month, Metromile offers an affordable alternative to other car insurance providers. Like Nationwide, Metromile also features a 250-mile per day mileage cap (150 miles per day in New Jersey), which enables infrequent drivers to indulge in guilt-free road trips on the weekend. Metromile offers an extensive list of coverage options, which includes:

      • Rental reimbursement
      • 24/7 Roadside assistance
      • Property damage
      • Bodily injury
      • Comprehensive
      • Under/uninsured motorist
      • Medical payments coverage

      Users can select some or all of these car insurance by the mile coverage options as part of one of four different levels of liability protection and may add more than one vehicle to a policy, which saves them money on their base and per-mile rate.

      Though Metromile has limited availability (CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, WA and VA), it offers automatic billing and easy-to-use online resources for handling payments, which makes it an attractive option for users that are residents of states where it is available.

      Milewise: Best for daily base rate structure – Allstate

      Instead of getting a monthly car insurance bill, opt for daily car insurance billing with Allstate Milewise.

      J.D. Power Rating
      3/5
      AM Best Rating
      A+
      Standard & Poor’s
      A-
      SimpleScore
      4.2 / 5.0
      close
      SimpleScore Allstate 4.2
      Discounts 3
      Coverage Options 5
      Customer Satisfaction 3
      Support 5
      Accessibility 5

      Milewise by Allstate is different from the norm as far as pay-per-mile insurance programs go. Instead of charging a monthly base rate like other low-mile car insurance programs, customers are instead charged a daily base rate and then a per-mile rate on top of that when they drive. Then, your daily rate plus the miles you drive is deducted from an Allstate Milewise account and when the balance is depleted, it’s then replenished with the payment on file.

      It’s surely a different way of charging customers for car insurance, with daily bills instead of monthly, which may turn some customers off. Budgeting for car insurance can be difficult with this payment structure. However, Allstate Milewise caps the amount of miles customers pay for each day, so if you take a long trip out of town, the extra miles don’t count that day. 

      Best for low mileage tracking – Mile Auto

      Instead of bulky mileage trackers, just take a picture of your odometer for car insurance savings with Mile Auto.

      J.D. Power Rating
      N/A
      AM Best Rating
      A+
      Standard & Poor’s
      N/A
      SimpleScore
      2 / 5.0
      close
      SimpleScore Mile Auto 2
      Discounts 1
      Coverage 1
      Customer Satisfaction N/A
      Support 3
      Accessibility 3

      Mile Auto believes in simplifying low-mileage car insurance and keeping your whereabouts your business. Instead of installing devices in your car to track your miles, just send Mile Auto a photo of your odometer every month. You’ll only pay the base rate and the miles driven. Customers can expect to save 30% to 40% compared to other insurance rates.

      Mile Auto offers other coverage options, but every policy includes state-required minimum liability coverage. Full coverage, collision and comprehensive coverage options are also available. Unfortunately, Mile Auto is currently only available in Georgia, Illinois and Oregon, but plans to be in other states soon. 

      What is pay-per-mile car insurance?

      Starting with a base rate that is calculated using factors such as your age, your credit score, your driving history, the kind of car you drive and your gender, insurance providers charge you a monthly premium that is a combination of your base rate and the total amount you drive.

      To calculate the latter component, insurers use an in-car device that tracks the number of miles you log each month. These miles factor into your annual mileage, which ultimately becomes a factor — though not a major component — in your overall premium. Taking all of this into account, insurance providers come up with a premium that reflects your driving habits, which is what you end up paying each month. If you don’t drive at all, you pay the base rate. If you do venture out onto the open road, your monthly premium reflects your mileage and includes a daily mileage ceiling above which you won’t be charged.

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      [ Read More: The Best Home and Auto Insurance Bundles ]

      Who should consider pay-per-mile insurance?

      Pay-per-mile car insurance clearly isn’t for everyone. Apart from the aforementioned geographic restrictions that apply to some providers, the per-mile basis on which premiums are calculated makes pay-per-mile insurance an unattractive option for users that drive a lot.

      For example, a sample rate from Metromile quotes its premiums at least $29 per month as a base rate plus six cents per mile driven. Taking into account the fact that the average American drives 16,550 miles per year, this policy would end up costing users about $1,341 per year, which is more than $300 over the national average of $1,004.

      [ Next: The Simple Guide to Car Insurance ]

      With this in mind, people who know that they have to log a lot of miles behind the wheel likely aren’t the best candidates for this kind of insurance. On the other hand, if you live in an urban area or have circumstances that don’t require you to use your car often, pay-per-mile insurance could be an excellent way to save money on monthly auto insurance premiums.

      If you don’t drive often or fall under one of these categories you may want to look further into low mileage insurance:

      • College student: You’re likely walking or biking around campus. And if you drive your car, you’re not going far very often. Why pay extra when you’re burning more calories than miles?
      • Urban area resident: If you live in NYC or another densely populated metro area you likely have everything within a few steps or subway stops. Your car likely stays parked unless you’re commuting to work or taking a road trip out of the city.
      • Remote employees: People working from home spend most of their days in their humble abode. Work is only a hop or skip from couch to their computer screen. There’s no need for keys unless you need to run a few errands.
      • Retired adults: If you’re retired or living in assisted living, chances are everything you need is at your fingertips. Grocery stores, pharmacies and leisure activities are within a few miles. So, there’s no need to pay full price for a few stops in the neighborhood.

      If I am working from home, should I switch to low mileage insurance? 

      The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many employees to work from home for safety and social distancing precautions. With many spending more time at home, it’s the perfect time to switch to low mileage insurance. A recent Slack study found that nearly 16 million U.S. workers are working remotely as of March 27, 2020. Slack noted that this number is probably much higher now as the pandemic continues.

      Slack’s study mentioned that 66% of surveyed employees are working remotely due to COVID-19 concerns, while 27% were remote workers beforehand. Growing pandemic concerns have many working remotely indefinitely and relying on delivery services to avoid large crowds. Americans are spending more time at home and less time out and about, making now the perfect time to switch to low mileage auto insurance. Those savings can help with home expenses or be put away for a rainy day.

      [ See: The Auto Insurance Terms You Need to Know ]

      How much can you save with pay-per-mile insurance?

      The main factor in determining how much you can save with car insurance by the mile is the number of miles driven. With Metromile, for example, if you stick to an average of 25 miles per day, you could end up paying just under $900 per year in auto insurance, which would yield you a modest chunk of change in savings compared to the national average.

      To have a clearer idea of what you could save, however, your best bet is to solicit quotes from traditional auto insurance providers and pay-per-mile insurers and use your estimated annual mileage as a predictive marker in calculating how much each option might cost you.

      How you can save money with low mileage insurance

      Usage-based insurance coverage lets you pay as you drive. It’s simple — you only owe for the miles you drive. The coverage cost may vary depending on a number of factors including your city, vehicle and number of miles. You’ll also want to factor in other auto insurance coverage add-ons such as uninsured drivers, collision or roadside assistance.

      Overall, it can mean big savings including low mileage premium reduction — the monthly or annual coverage price drop for having low mileage insurance. If you drive less than 8,000–10,000 miles per year you can benefit from low mileage insurance coverage savings. The Insurance Information Institute also shared that you can also get a price reduction if you carpool for extra savings.

      Pay-per-mile FAQs

      Pay-as-you-drive models use a telematics device to monitor your car. By using this technology, drivers have the chance to potentially earn a larger discount by driving less and being more cautious on the road. The point of these devices is to track a driver’s driving patterns as a means of gauging of cautiously or recklessly a user drives. The devices track speed, hard braking and a few other factors to determine how much a driver is eligible to save for safe driving.

      Pay-per-mile insurance is only calculated using a base rate and a per-mile rate. Thus, how recklessly or safely you drive have no bearing on what you pay at the end of each billing cycle.

      Though all users have the right to cancel their pay-per-mile insurance policies whenever they like, doing so often comes with fees. Sometimes these fees can be waived if the policyholder switches to a traditional, unlimited miles policy. To find out whether your provider will charge you to cancel your policy, reach out to a representative.

      Yes. The coverage offered with a pay-per-mile policy is the same as that provided under a traditional policy with the exception that the payment structure is different. While a traditional policy will charge you a monthly premium based on factors such as the make and model of your vehicle, your age, your driving history and health-related factors that could impact your ability to drive safely, a pay-per-mile policy charges drivers a substantially reduced base fee along with a per-mile fee that is usually capped at a certain per-day mileage limit.

      Pay-per-mile premium rates are made up of two components. The first is a base rate, which is applied at the discretion of the provider. The second component is a rate applied to the number of miles you drive during a billing cycle. This rate is determined based on factors such as your age, driving history, credit score, make and model of car and gender, among other factors. Combined, these two factors make up your monthly premium.

      We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the auto insurance companies we recommend. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

      Methodology

      SimpleScore

      The SimpleScore makes it easy to compare products and services featured here on The Simple Dollar in a transparent, open and honest way. We rate these products and services using five factors and average them to calculate a single SimpleScore. For auto insurance, we compare:

      • Discounts
      • Coverage options
      • Support
      • Customer satisfaction
      • Accessibility

      You can read more about each factor and the details of each score in our auto insurance methodology. Use our ratings and editorial recommendations as you shop for the best auto insurance that fits your coverage needs.

      Car insurance rates: We used insurance rates from Quadrant Information Services. This includes analyzing thousands of rates from all 50 states that were publicly sourced from 2019 insurer filings. Rates are based on a 30-year-old male or female that had a clean driving record. Full Coverage premiums assumed a $500 collision and comprehensive deductible, and we looked at those who had both good and poor credit. These rates should be used to inform your car insurance shopping process, but your own quote may differ.

      Why do some brands have different SimpleScores on different pages?

      To ensure the SimpleScore is as helpful and accurate as possible, we developed unique criteria for every category we compare at The Simple Dollar. Since most brands offer a variety of financial solutions, their products and services will score differently depending on what we’re scoring on a given page.
      However, it’s also possible for the same product from the same brand to have multiple SimpleScores. For instance, if we compare State Farm’s home insurance according to our criteria for the best home insurance, it scores a 3.8 out of 5. But when we compare State Farm according to the criteria for the best auto insurance, it scores higher, since the features the company offers can vary by the type of insurance.

      Discounts

      We looked at the number of discounts each company offers — more discounts mean a higher score.

      Coverage Options

      We awarded higher scores to the companies that have the most coverage options.

      Support

      We awarded higher scores to lenders with the most channels for customer support.

      Customer Satisfaction

      We leveraged the J.D. Power 2019 Auto Insurance Satisfaction Study℠ to see how customers rated their experience with each company. (If a company wasn’t included in J.D. Power’s study, we skipped this aspect and averaged the four remaining aspect scores.)

      Accessibility

      We looked at the level of accessibility of each company –– the more resources they have the higher their score.

      Dashia Starr

      Personal Finance Reporter

      Dashia is a finance and insurance reporter, covering loans, mortgages and insurance products. In her spare time, she enjoys baking and cycling. Her work has also appeared on Safety.com.

      Reviewed by

      • Courtney Mihocik
        Courtney Mihocik
        Loans Editor

        Courtney Mihocik is an editor at The Simple Dollar who specializes in personal loans, student loans, auto loans, and debt consolidation loans. She is a former writer and contributing editor to Interest.com, PersonalLoans.org, and elsewhere.