A new company is trying to woo Portlanders who don't drive very much with pay-per-mile car insurance. MetroMile, of Redwood City, Calif., has been offering its unique insurance plans only in Portland since December.
Drivers who sign up will pay a monthly fee and a per-mile charge depending on how much they drive. The amount is calculated with help from a tracking device placed in the car.
Portlander Kathleen O'Malley said she saved $25 in the first month of paying per mile for car insurance, and she's looking forward to saving even more.
"Because of this incentive to drive less, it inspired me finally – the last straw– to get a bicycle," she said. "So I've been commuting by bike to work for the last two weeks now."
MetroMile founder and CEO Steve Pretre said the national average for miles driven per year in the U.S. is 12,000-14,000 miles, but there is a population in Portland that drives significantly less – more like 4,000 to 5,000 miles a year. Those drivers could save 50 to 70 percent on car insurance by switching to MetroMile, he said.
The concept offers better deals to people who are less likely to have an accident, Pretre said, and who also contribute to a cleaner, more livable environment.
"The core premise is that people who drive less should only be paying for what they're using in terms of insurance," he said. "Historically people who drive less effectively subsidize people who drive more."
This week, the company offered a free "test drive" to 100 people interested in finding out whether they could save money by switching their car insurance. The test drive involves using the company's "metronome" tracking device for a month to see how much pay-per-mile would cost.