A Pedometer for Your Car: Pay Insurance by the Mile

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Good morning, BTA Blog Readers! Today’s Guest Post comes to us courtesy of Brittany Wooten of MetroMile, a per-mile car insurance company that has been an enthusiastic sponsor of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and the Bike Commute Challenge. Thanks to their support, we’ve been able to give over 40 Bike Commute Workshops to over 600 people since July. As you’re logging your trips on the Bike Commute Challenge website, take a gander at MetroMile’s website; if you’ve been logging your commute trips on a bicycle and leaving the car at home lately, there’s a great chance that you can save even more money on your commute by only paying for the car-insurance that you need. Take it away, Brittany!

 

Jackie Yerby is a long-distance biker and a short-distance driver. She regularly joins more than 2,500 other riders for the annual six-day Cycle Oregon tour, and the rest of the year she rolls up only about 9,200 miles on her car. Her lifestyle—and mileage—are ideal for a new concept in car insurance recently introduced in Oregon by MetroMile.

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When Yerby drives to her job as sustainability program manager for Cambia Health Solutions in Portland, she pays her car insurance by the mile.  A sensor device, called the Metronome, plugged into her vehicle counts the miles she drives—a sort of pedometer for the car. It then transmits the data wirelessly so she can be billed automatically at the end of each month for only the miles she’s accumulated. Not only has she cut her insurance costs by nearly 40 percent, but she now thinks twice about climbing into her car instead of climbing onto her bike for neighborhood errands.

Yerby became acquainted with MetroMile and its new approach to insurance when she entered the Carefree Commuter Challenge in July. The challenge is a free, month-long event promoted by the Portland Bureau of Transportation to encourage commuters to switch from drive-alone trips to carpooling, walking, transit, biking and telecommuting.

“ A colleague of mine tried MetroMile and that prompted me to give it a shot,” Yerby recalls. “I compared the costs to my premiums with my traditional car insurance company and figured I could save $35 to $50 a month if I paid by the mile instead.”

With this new insurance model, drivers pay just a few cents per mile plus a low monthly base rate far below the premiums of standard insurance. Drivers receive coverage and service identical to or even better than that from a traditional insurance policy. Moreover, car owners can see all their mileage and other analytics through an online dashboard.

MetroMile is targeted to those who drive less than 10,000 miles a year. When they drive less, they are less likely to get in an accident, so the insurance company has fewer claims to pay and can pass those savings on to subscribers. “In my first month of by-the-mile insurance, I paid $74,” Yerby recalls. “My old policy would have been $126. It’s nice to be able to control that. By the end of the second month, I was thinking about how I could drive less.”

Yerby says she has increased her walking and biking since August in running errands around her neighborhood, and she’s been actively participating in the Bike Commute Challenge. When she does need to take a long road trip, her new by-the-mile insurance doesn’t penalize her.

“My mother lives in California; that’s a 900-mile drive. But MetroMile charges me for only the first 150 miles I drive each day.”

Yerby believes this new type of insurance is a good fit for the large numbers of low-mileage drivers in Portland, as the city is very bikeable and walkable, and is well-serviced by transit.

“For people like me, it makes a lot of sense,” Jackie said. “They just need to do the math, which is what I did after trying it out. That’s what got me to go over.”

To give Portland residents an opportunity to see how a pay-per-mile approach to car insurance works, MetroMile just announced its Test Drive program. Through Test Drive, consumers receive a Metronome device for one month to monitor the number of miles they drive and provide insight into how much they would save through MetroMile.

For more information, visit www.metromile.com.

Photo of Jackie Yerby on her bike commute  by Jonathan Maus, www.bikeportland.org.

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