I’m always looking for ways to cut down my recurring monthly spend when possible, and even more so when the product is so easy to judge. Buying car insurance sucks. It’s a fact, not an opinion. If you get into an accident, you get the pleasure of dealing with it for the next 2-3 weeks, even if it was not your fault. It’s simply a pain in the ass. If you don’t get into an accident you get the pleasure of cutting a check to your insurance provider every month and feel like you’re constantly getting fucking ripped off. Have I pretty much summed it up?
My thinking is this: if the experience of getting into an accident or filing a claim is going to be a pain in the ass, I might as well be paying the least amount of money for the privilege. There are very little things to judge about car insurance aside from the customer service (which highly depends on who you talk to at each company). It’s all about the coverage you want, and fortunately you can easily choose the EXACT same coverage amounts across companies if you so choose. I don’t get into very many driving incidents because I drive like I’m 80 years old in my old Honda Civic (knocking on wood). I had esurance insurance coverage for the last 2+ years and never filed a claim with them, so I wouldn’t be able to tell you how they were as a provider.
Recently, I stumbled upon a new company called MetroMile. I believe today they are operating in California, Illinois, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, so if you are not living in those states this specific company doesn’t apply to you, unfortunately. That being said, the same message to look for the best rates still holds true for everyone. In the eyes of your insurance carrier, you are just an observation with variables (kids, # of accidents, credit score, age) that they plug into a model to give you a quote. They usually leave out, or sum over, the biggest variable in play: the amount you drive. Amount of miles actually driven should be the largest piece of the puzzle, given it is the exact time you are at risk for an accident. Metromile is a company that doesn’t leave that out and bases all its rates on the amount driven. Looking back on it now, it’s really ridiculous they leave this out of the equation (I think some companies ask general questions about how far your work is, but nothing specific).
Since I never filed a claim with esurance, I had no idea how good of a company they were. It was an easy switch when I got my price quote from MetroMile. Insurance premiums vary widely by age and sex, but my quote was around $20 + $.039 per mile driven. My first full month of driving just ended with 522 miles driven and my bill is around $40 less than it was with esurance. That’s a 50% savings for me (esurance was around $80) and extra money I can put towards savings/investments. Now, let me be upfront about this. I have not dealt with Metromile’s customer service or filed a claim. I don’t know what degree of terrible they are going to be when I need them (I expect all customer service interaction to be awful when dealing with car insurance companies). What I do know is I’m certainly willing to pay $40 less per month to deal with a little more crap if I ever need to file a claim. I just don’t know if I will have to quite yet.
For those of you wondering how it works, you install a device into your OBD-II port of your car. Simple and easy. Installation was simply receiving the device in the mail and plugging it in. The device comes with several useful features. First of all, your “dashboard” online logs all of your trips and the amount of time they took. It estimates gas mileage, and the cost you are spending on gas based on national price averages, your car’s fuel economy, and miles driven. Since this port is what mechanics plug into, it can also give you an explanation of any warning lights or engine problems that might arise. For those of you who are afraid of being “on the grid” more with this device, they say that you can turn off tracking and simply log the miles driven instead. But if you are one of those people, you should probably go ahead and smash your cell phone, disconnect your internet at home, turn off your TV, and get rid of your credit cards, because you are already very much “on the grid”. We all are.
Saving an extra $480 per year for me is a pretty big improvement for a simple couple of phone calls. It’s MUCH easier to change car insurance than cable/internet providers. Most of all, I like the fact that if I drive less in a given month, it will show up in my bill at the end of the month. The more ways we have to save a couple of bucks per month, the more control we have if we ever desire it. If money gets tight, conserving driving miles is a simple way to free up a few bucks at the end of the month. For the most part, the cost of driving is vastly understated by assuming all it is it your cost of gas. That is a very awful assumption, as you pay for gas, maintenance, taxes, car payments, and insurance all at once. In my opinion, any chance you can get to reduce that cost should be taken advantage of.