Coverage.com, LLC is a licensed insurance producer (NPN: 19966249). Coverage.com services are only available in states where it is licensed. Coverage.com may not offer insurance coverage in all states or scenarios. All insurance products are governed by the terms in the applicable insurance policy, and all related decisions (such as approval for coverage, premiums, commissions and fees) and policy obligations are the sole responsibility of the underwriting insurer. The information on this site does not modify any insurance policy terms in any way.
Car insurance for low-mileage drivers
The Bankrate promise
At Bankrate, we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. To help readers understand how insurance affects their finances, we have licensed insurance professionals on staff who have spent a combined 47 years in the auto, home and life insurance industries. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation of . Our content is backed by Coverage.com, LLC, a licensed entity (NPN: 19966249). For more information, please see our .
In the United States, the average driver travels 13,476 miles on an annual basis. However, with the rise of remote work, many drivers are taking to the road less often and covering less distance than they once did. To cater to less-frequent drivers, some insurance companies offer pay-per-mile or low-mileage or car insurance policies, as well as special discounts for drivers who travel under a certain mileage per year. Low-mileage car insurance can be a cheaper option than standard policies, which are often priced for drivers who travel at least 10,000 miles per year.
Who is a low-mileage driver?
Generally speaking, a low-mileage driver is someone who drives infrequently or drives under a specific number of miles each year. But for insurance purposes, the definition of a low-mileage driver depends on the specific criteria used by each car insurance company. For example, MileAuto, a mileage-based insurer, states on its site that anyone who drives less than 10,000 miles a year fits in this category and “is probably paying too much for car insurance.”
In fact, although the overall driving rate in this country does not appear to be declining dramatically, it is clear that certain groups are increasingly finding alternatives to frequent driving. These include the growing number of remote workers, urban dwellers who rely more on ridesharing services, stay-at-home parents and retirees.
Depending upon actual mileage driven annually, members of these groups may benefit substantially with a mileage-based premium policy. Keep in mind that actual rates may vary, and will depend on your true mileage, the insurance company chosen, the specifics of your low-mileage driving policy and discounts, among other factors.
How to save on car insurance as a low-mileage driver
When it comes to car insurance for low-mileage drivers, most insurance companies have had discounts available for some time. Car insurers assume that those who are on the roads less often will not be as likely to have accidents. This reduced risk is usually worth a discount. More recently, mileage and usage-based policies have been specifically created with low-mileage drivers in mind to benefit their infrequent driving and share special discounts.
Low-mileage drivers can save in a number of ways:
- Low-mileage discounts: This is a traditional approach to reduce premiums by a percentage for driving less than a certain amount of miles. Often, the driver commits to reporting their miles driven with proof in the form of an odometer reading.
- Usage-based discounts: This is a more recent technique to measure both mileage and safe driving habits through telematics. For example, discounts may be based on driving during non-peak traffic hours, which are generally deemed safer, or by braking and accelerating gently.
- Mileage-based policies: With this option, a driver’s miles can be measured with an app and premiums can be based on a modest base price plus an additional amount for every mile driven.
Car insurance companies for low-mileage drivers
If you consider yourself a low-mileage driver and do not expect to use your car for long trips over a period of time, mileage-based car insurance may be worth obtaining quotes for. Additionally, if you are a safe driver, some insurers offer the opportunity to reduce your rates by measuring your current safe driving patterns and habits.
Typically, mileage-based insurance will set a fixed base rate determined from typical factors like age (except in Hawaii or Massachusetts), driving history and the vehicle driven. Above this, you will be charged a certain amount for each mile driven and measured through an insurer-provided device or smartphone app. Listed below are examples of car insurance companies that are making an impact in this market, but keep in mind that availability may be limited in some states. The best way to know if you qualify is to request a quote, many of which can be submitted quickly on a company’s website.
Root was one of the first car insurance companies in the U.S. to be fully app-based. The app tracks both the number of miles driven and driving habits in order to set your premium. As such, premiums will vary from month to month, although Root does have a test-drive period to help you gauge how much your premium might be. Safe driving and avoiding hard braking and rapid acceleration can help keep premiums low, but you run the risk of being charged higher premiums if poor driving patterns are detected. For these reasons, the driver largely controls the premiums.
Metromile is a pure pay-per-mile auto insurance company. Unlike Root, your rate is tied directly only to the miles you drive, as Metromile does not monitor driving behavior. There are two components to the monthly premium. The base rate is quoted using traditional underwriting principles looking at driving history and other factors. The second component is tied directly to the number of miles you drive, which are measured by a company-provided device. Metromile is also unique from other low-mileage insurance companies in that the per mile rate applies to the first 250 miles each day. After that, the additional miles are free of charge.
MileAuto is one of the newest companies in the mileage-based insurance business. It is similar in approach to Metromile in setting a base premium rate using traditional underwriting standards. The premium is then adjusted monthly based upon the number of miles driven. MileAuto is unique in that it does not employ a telematics device or mobile app. Instead, drivers are reminded monthly via email and text to take a photo of their odometer. Although this could be an additional task every month, it could be ideal for drivers who may have privacy concerns over other more intrusive data collection methods.
Milewise from Allstate
Milewise is a pay-per-mile-based insurance policy, but brings with it the resources and credibility of a well-known traditional insurer through Allstate. Also using a plug-in device, Milewise measures driving miles as well as behaviors. These, in turn, set the fluctuating monthly rate, which combined with a traditional base rate, sets the premiums. With a feedback loop on its app, Milewise also provides an opportunity for the insured to improve driving habits.
Like others above, Noblr assesses driving habits and miles via its mobile app and uses the data to set monthly premiums. However, Noblr goes beyond this and looks at certain unique patterns in driving behavior other than the number of miles or braking habits. For example, Noblr assesses risk by also reviewing the driver’s road choices and monitoring cellular phone usage to measure, and hopefully discourage, texting and driving. It also tracks the time of day you drive and road choices, such as highway or street, but keep in mind that rating factors can vary by state regulations.
Although currently only available in Illinois, Ohio and Tennessee, Lemonade now provides car insurance to drivers with a focus on personalization. Like some of the other companies on this list, Lemonade also uses telematics data collected through its mobile app to track drivers’ mileage and driving habits and set their insurance rate. There are also additional discounts for low-mileage and safe drivers.
What’s the difference between pay-per-mile and usage-based insurance?
Although these two types of car insurance sound similar and can benefit low-mileage drivers, they are slightly different.
|Pay-per-mile car insurance||Usage-based car insurance|
|How it works||
Drivers are charged a base rate plus a per-mile rate to determine monthly premium.
May be a great fit for drivers who rarely drive and/or drive far less than the national average.
Insurance company may use a telematics device or your phone to track driving habits and mileage.
May benefit drivers regardless of annual mileage.