If you don't drive a lot, you can save money on your car insurance premium with a low-mileage discount. Find out what companies offer the discount, and how to qualify for it.
There's no way around it. Owning a car is costly. Between fuel, insurance, repairs, and maintenance, the price of car ownership adds up. Fortunately, there are ways to cut those costs down.
Insurance companies offer a variety of discounts for drivers. That includes a low mileage discount for people who don't drive often.
Recent studies show that people – especially millennials -- are driving less. Some people are taking the train or bus to work more. Some are bicycling. Some just want to take a break from the road.
Whatever the reason, driving less adds up to a discount. Car insurance companies base your premium on many factors including your level of risk factor. If you spend less time on the road, you are less likely to be in an accident and file a claim. Insurers see that as a reason to reduce premiums.
There are many different ways to make a low-mileage discount work for you.
Clocking many miles over the course of a year can add to your premium cost. There are states like North Carolina where the increase is practically zero. In California, however, driving 20,000 miles a year versus 5,000 miles a year can raise your premium by over 25 percent. For many drivers, a low mileage discount leads to substantial savings.
Insurers offer low-mileage discounts to customers who drive under a set number of miles each year. The average person drives around 12,000 miles a year. If you drive less than that, you could save anywhere from five to ten percent more on your car insurance.
The requirements for this discount vary between insurance companies. Some companies install a mileage tracker in your car. Some accept mileage estimates. Others require a periodic reading of your odometer. This includes agents checking the odometer themselves or you just sending in a photo of the odometer.
There are a few common scenarios that lead to less driving. If any of these apply to you, look into a low-mileage discount.
If you’re retired or soon will be, chances are you’re going to be spending less time in a commute. Especially if you are on a fixed income, the money you save from driving fewer miles can make a big difference.
No need to drive to the office when you’re already there. Cutting your commute time to near zero can have a big effect on your risk on the road, and your insurance cost.
Commuting with other people to work can take your hands off the wheel. This is likely to get you a discount.
There are three primary ways to get a low-mileage discount for your auto insurance:
This tends to be the main way to get the discount. When you sign up for a policy, you estimate your yearly mileage for your insurer. It varies from insurer to insurer, but some may request regular proof of mileage. The amount of your discount varies from state-to-state. People in Hawaii tend to drive less, so the discount is close to nothing. In states like California where state law has mileage as a rating factor, the savings can be upwards of 20 percent.
Your insurance company will perform a thorough measure of how often you drive. Many companies offer a pay-as-you-drive program that involves a mileage recorder installed in your car. From the data the recorder collects, the company would offer a discount when renewal time occurs.
Pay-by-the-mile programs are currently only available through Metromile in California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington. Metromile’s Pay-Per-Mile Insurance bases premium price on the miles you’ve driven, making it ideal if you’re trying to save money.
Along the lines of low-mileage discounts, usage-based discounts are programs based on personal driving habits. Based on your driving history and pattern, insurers that offer usage-based discounts can tailor a premium to you. These premiums can come with significant savings, some up to 50 percent.
Usage-based programs tend to involve a telematics device installed in your car that collects drive data. This includes your average speed, when you drive, and number of miles in a given time.
These programs are gaining acclaim due to the savings they provide. Many of the major insurers let you try out the device before you commit. The data collected is available to you through your insurer’s app or website. This allows you to be aware of your driving habits and see how they affect your insurance rates.
At this time, the telematics device used to record data are not usable in hybrid or electric cars, but that should change soon.
When you look for insurers with low-mileage discounts, you’ll want to consider factors like where you live, how often you drive, and what your driving habits are. All of these will be good to know in order for you to get the best rate possible. Here are some insurance companies with low-mileage discounts:
Progressive uses Snapshot to tailor a personal rate for you. Snapshot is a usage-based program that is offered in almost every state (currently it is unavailable in California and North Carolina.) that factors in almost all your driving habits except speed.
Snapshot works best if you drive about 10,000 miles or less yearly. If you drive more than that, you can still save money if you drive safely and avoid higher risk hours. Progressive considers midnight to 4 a.m. to be the high-risk times. On average, Snapshot users save $130 yearly.
Allstate’s Drivewise program uses a telematics device that tracks factors in your driving to give you a decent discount.
In order to earn the discount, Allstate asks that you keep your speed below 80mph, limit driving at late hours (10 pm to 4 am mainly.) and reduce hard-braking habits.
For this, you will earn 3 per cent discount on your policy if you sign up and maintain the Drivewise program. You will also earn up to 15 percent cash back after your first 50 trips, then every six months after that.
At this time, Drivewise is available in Alaska, Florida, and Indiana.
Nationwide’s SmartRide usage-based program offers you a discount based on miles driven, hard braking, acceleration rate, idle time, and nighttime driving (midnight to 5 am are Nationwide’s high-risk times.) SmartRide is available in 24 states and has launched in 15 more.
Once you install the SmartRide telematics device, the discount updates on a weekly basis. Nationwide will have you use the device for four to six months. After this time, you send the device back to Nationwide and your final discount applies to your policy when you renew.
Esurance’s DriveSense program is currently available in eighteen states and will soon be coming to more. DriveSense tracks your braking, mileage, driving hours, speed, and acceleration. Based on this data, you could save upwards of 30 percent.
At this time, DriveSense does not work on electric vehicles, hybrids, or cars manufactured before 1996. The DriveSense device installs into the diagnostics port of your car, but will soon be replaced by an app.
Safeco’s RightTrack program tracks your mileage, driving time, hard braking, and acceleration rate. If you maintain safe driving habits for 90 days, you will receive a discount up to 30 percent.
If you should replace your car, your RightTrack savings will transfer to your new vehicle. Also, your discount is for the life of your policy. RightTrack is available in all states, except Alaska, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
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