Imagine a world where your auto insurance costs are based on the miles you drive.

Think about it: Whether you drive 50 miles a day or 5 miles a day, we all get lumped into the same category and have to pay up. And, more often than not, our auto insurance bill isn't very cheap. That doesn't seem fair, does it? Metromile doesn't think so either, apparently, because it's offering a new type of auto insurance - one that is customised to you and how often you actually use your car.

Here's what you need to know.

What is Metromile?

Metromile is a San Francisco, CA-based auto insurance company that offers "pay-per-mile insurance". Currently, it's only available to vehicle owners or vehicles leasers living in the US states of California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. You cannot use Metromile on a rental vehicle (but a policy holder can rent out a car) or if your vehicle is used for a rides-haring company such as Uber or Lyft.

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How does Metromile work?

Metromile Pulse

Metromile will send you a little device, called the Metromile Pulse, which plugs into your car’s on-board diagnostic (OBD-II) port. This device can securely transmit data through a cell modem to update your account with trip information. The Pulse must be plugged in to your vehicle at all times so mileage can be accurately measured and billed, but it's OK to move it when the vehicle is getting serviced.

The device uses the same port your mechanic plugs in his or her diagnostic tool. Metromille collects all the information your vehicle shares via the OBD-II port. The Pulse has a GPS unit that can track location-based data, and it has an accelerometer that measures changes in velocity, as well as a gyroscope that measures the angle of the device. But Metromile does not charge based on any data besides mileage.

You can also disable the GPS function of the Pulse through the online dashboard. Now, Metromile said that "in general, the device should have little to no effect on a healthy battery for many months even if the car is not driven". If you want to know more about how this OBD-II device works, check out Metromile's FAQ center. The company stresses that it takes the security of its products very seriously.

Metromile app

Metromile also offers a smartphone app. It's not required to use. You can always access your policy documents and trip information by logging into your account via the online dashboard. The app is basically just a way to visualise your data and receive notifications and alerts.

How much does Metromile cost?

That all depends on how much you drive. The miles you drive each month can vary, and your bill is based on the quantity of miles. Because of this, all miles are charged the following month. Metromile does give you the option to set a monthly mileage budget for your own personal use, but it has no impact on your bill. It's only so that you can keep an eye on how much you’re driving/spending on miles.

Remember, unlike typical insurance companies that charge a fixed rate, Metromile charges a low monthly base rate as well as a per-mile rate. So, your monthly bill will include the next month’s base rate in addition to the cost of the miles driven over the past month. The base rate is determined by a daily rate multiplied by the amount of days in each month. Here's how Metromile explained billing:

"You’re charged for your first month’s base rate when you purchase a policy, plus any required prepayment. At the end of the first month, you’ll be charged for the next month’s base rate as well as any miles driven during the previous month. That way, you’ll only receive one bill each month. We also set you up for automatic billing when you first sign up, so there’s no need to worry about missed payments. If you ever need to update your billing information, you can login to your online account."

How do you sign up for Metromile?

Easy. Go to the Metromile website. From there, you can get a quote and become a Metromile customer. You'll also see that Metromile offers different levels of liability protection as well as options for your comprehensive and collision deductibles. It even offers roadside assistance as an optional add-on, which includes fixing a flat tire, lockout, and towing. Go here to learn more about coverage.

If you don't want to use the website, call an agent tel:888-511-6857.