What's the Latest Development?
California-based MetroMile may be the first car insurance company to charge its customers the same way a utility does: Each month it sends a bill for a base fee plus an additional amount that's based on the number of miles driven during the period, as reported by a sensor placed within the car. The sensor also collects additional data about the car that over time the company will use to provide its customers with specialized advice, such as how to drive more safely and whether certain components need fixing. MetroMile claims that its ideal customer will save 25-30 percent a year compared with more typical forms of insurance.
What's the Big Idea?
MetroMile isn't the only company that's collecting driver data to help calculate its rates, but it's no coincidence that its primary market is in Portland, a city known for championing alternative forms of transportation. Co-founder Steve Pretre says, "By having people pay per mile, it...creates an incentive to drive less. We can help people make lifestyle decisions they want to make anyway." People who drive more than 10,000 miles a year are riskier customers simply because they're on the road more and are that much more likely to encounter potential trouble. Those who drive less experience "a transition...that makes MetroMile's pricing more attractive," according to Pretre.