Metromile: Tracking Your Car’s Data, and the Advent of Per-Mile Insurance

has an interesting take on car insurance, particularly for people who drive 10,000 miles or less a year: pay for your insurnace by the mile.

In addition to that, you’ll get a device (called the Metronome) that plugs in to your car’s diagnostic port and lets you track your driving statistics and monitor your engine’s health. Combined with a free iPhone app, you can also locate your car and can be notified about things like street sweeping.

While the device and access to data seems nice, it’s the money-savings from the insurance that seems to be the primary sell, here. I have to confess, I’ve been looking over the pitch, and I’m still trying to assess whether this would be something worthwhile to pursue.

Liz and I definitely don’t drive the car every day. And with us being even closer to a grocery store, our primary use of the car (getting food and such) is definitely reduced. I don’t know for certain, but I have a sense we fall under 10,000 miles per year.

In a nutshell, it appears that each person is given a base rate and a per-mile rate (based on their driving history, vehicle, etc). So the total cost of the insurance each month can change: if you drive less, you pay less. And there are caps, it appears, in the event that you’re out and about on a road-trip or vacation (150 miles per day, if you are a driver in Illinois or Oregon, 250 miles per day if you are in Washington).

An interesting snippet, via TechCrunch:

You see, until now, insurance companies couldn’t measure how much people actually drive. They couldn’t tell who drove tens or hundreds of thousands a mile a year and who drove just a few. So instead they the 70% of car owners who drive less than the mean subsidize those who drive much more.

I haven’t tried to do the quote just yet, but that’s on my to-do list. I’m currently paying around $65/month for car insurance. If that can get reduced to $48/month (according to their example), and I can somehow get better coverage and also a device that will help me keep tabs on my car’s/engine’s health? Seems like a a pretty convincing pitch.

One thing I’m not immediately clear on: it seems that you can request the Metronome device and get the iPhone app, without having to get the insurance. But I can’t tell if this is just free, or if there’s some additional charge. It appears to be free, but… nothing’s ever free free.

I’ll have to contact the company later today, and find out. Maybe they’re happy just collecting data, and that’s the trade-off. Or by giving away the Metronome, they’ll update non-insurance users with what their projected insurance would be… and eventually win them over as customers?

Gotta go check the odometer, and do a little math. For someone who’s generally wary of those “preferred customer” barcode thingies at stores, I seem quite entranced by a fancy gadget that basically transmits all my travel data to a third party.

// Update: It seems that we’ve done a rough average of about 8,000 miles per year on the car. Some years were heavier than others (like that time we drove to Texas), but on the whole I think we fall under the 10,000 number.

Also, got confirmation from the company that you can get the Metronome and data part free, and don’t need to purchase the insurance. Will be interesting to see the device in person, and to try it out. Stay tuned…

[via @me3dia]

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