Car Insurance Based on Mileage: High or Low
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Just like fingerprints and snowflakes, no two drivers are exactly the same. While you’re commuting 30 miles each day, your friend might only use their vehicle once a week—or vice versa!
But unlike a beautiful winter snowfall or a kindergartener’s finger painting masterpiece, your driving habits have real-world implications. Whether you’re the lengthy commuter, the infrequent driver, or somewhere in between, it’s important to understand how mileage affects your insurance rates.
Why Mileage Matters
Auto insurance quotes are based on a combination of several individual factors that create a holistic picture of a driver’s risk profile—your mileage is just one of these components, but an important one nonetheless.
When you sign up for automotive coverage, most insurance companies will ask for an estimation of how many miles you drive. This may be on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis, but the bottom line is this: providers want to know how much your car is being used.
Why is car insurance based on mileage? There are a couple of reasons for this:
Risk – This is a matter of simple statistics. The more you drive, the more likely it is that you’ll get into an accident. Because insurance is essentially a numbers game, this affects even the safest drivers. However, a history of safe driving can help reduce your auto insurance premium no matter how high your mileage is because you’ve proven your aptitude as a driver.
Vehicle lifespan – Auto insurance covers more than just accidents. Drivers who choose a full-coverage plan can insure their car against mechanical failure, faulty parts, and breakdowns. The more you drive, the more wear-and-tear your vehicle has endured, potentially shortening its lifespan. Your provider is, therefore, more likely to have to pay for replacement parts or repairs. This encourages them to raise your premiums.
Mileage-based insurance can also differ between states. Many states place drivers into mileage brackets, creating a tiered system of price increases. Some states, like California, require providers to track every mile a customer drives.
The most common annual mileage brackets are:[^1]
5,000 miles or under – The company’s lowest rates
7,500 miles per year – A 10% price increase, on average
10,000 miles per year – An additional 7% price increase, on average
12,000 miles per year – An additional 4% price increase, on average
20,000 miles per year – An additional 25% price increase, on average
Most insurance providers consider an annual mileage between 5,000 and 7,500 to be “low mileage,” although this will vary between companies and states.
Best Insurance for High-Mileage Drivers
Naturally, high mileage equates to higher insurance premiums. For that reason, it’s especially important that high-mileage drivers find an insurance provider with plans to help offset these costs.
Below are some of the best companies, plans, and benefits that high-mileage drivers can take advantage of.
As the name suggests, Farmers was originally created for and marketed toward rural drivers, but the insurance company has gained traction as one of the largest providers in the nation. Customers can choose from a wide scope of automotive coverage, including:
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
Personal injury protection (PIP)
In the past, Farmers took mileage into account when calculating your rates. Fortunately, the car insurance company has left this behind in recent years.[^2] Excluding residents of California, Farmers customers won’t pay any more for their premiums just because they have a long commute, making this an ideal choice for high-mileage drivers.
Farmers also offers unique coverage options that can benefit high-mileage drivers, such as:
Towing and roadside assistance – If your car breaks down, you always hope it happens close to home. As a long-distance driver, however, the chances of this happening are much smaller. Farmers customers can choose to add towing and roadside assistance to their insurance plan. This includes 24/7 assistance and financial coverage for towing, tire changing, locksmith, and jumpstart fees.
Rental car reimbursement – The more you drive, the more likely it is that your car is a crucial part of your daily life. As such, you’ll need a rental car in the event of an emergency or breakdown. Farmers will cover up to 30 days of rental car costs while your vehicle is being repaired.
Rideshare coverage – One of the most common professions of high-mileage drivers is to work for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft. Farmers customers can add full rideshare protection to their auto plan and fill the gap between their company and personal insurance.[^3]
Progressive is one of the most well-known insurance companies in the United States. Nearly 20 million Americans rely on Progressive’s flexible coverage, low rates, and numerous discounts each year.[^4]
In terms of auto insurance, Progressive has a range of coverage options, such as:
Comprehensive and collision
Progressive also offers two unique tools that can help high-mileage drivers save money:
Snapshot program – Customers who practice safe driving habits can save money through Progressive’s Snapshot program. This device is either downloaded to your mobile phone or plugged directly into your dashboard. From there, the Snapshot device tracks not only how much you drive but also how well. This allows high-mileage drivers to prove their low-risk status, despite having a lengthy commute. Using the Snapshot tool while driving safely will bring down the price of your premiums over time.[^5]
Name Your Price Tool – Progressive customers can use the Name Your Price Tool to find specific coverage that fits their budget. This questionnaire will also ask for some basic information, including the miles you drive on average. The Name Your Price Tool can help high-mileage drivers customize a plan they can actually afford.[^6]
Best Insurance For Low-Mileage Drivers
If you work from home or live in a walkable city, it simply doesn’t make sense to pay full price for auto insurance.
Fortunately, there are plenty of providers that offer discounts for low-mileage drivers. Below are some of the best companies and plans to consider if you rarely find yourself on the road.
The United States Automobile Association—commonly known as USAA—is a home, life, and auto insurance provider for military members and their families. Customers have a variety of coverage options through USAA auto insurance, but the basic plan will include:
Customers who don’t drive often may wish to opt-out of additional coverage, such as medical payments, personal injury protection, and roadside assistance. Fortunately, USAA provides flexible coverage based on your budget and needs.
Low mileage drivers will also benefit from USAA’s Annual Mileage discount. Each year, your premium will be recalculated based on your car's miles—the less you’ve driven, the lower your monthly payments will be.[^7]
Nationwide is a big-name insurance provider in the U.S., but not everyone is familiar with their SmartMiles program. As a low-mileage driver, you definitely should be.
SmartMiles allows customers to pay for their insurance plan per-mile. This means your premiums will vary each month, and the less you drive, the less you’ll pay. Nationwide tracks your miles via a device that plugs into your odometer. Customers can access their accounts online and keep track of the changes to their bills each month.
This plan is available in almost 40 U.S. states for widespread accessibility. The SmartMiles program also comes with a few other advantages, including:
Roadtrip exception – Your bill will only be affected by the first 250 miles you drive each day. This allows customers to take the occasional road trip without affecting their overall insurance plan.
Safe driving behavior discount – After the first plan renewal, customers can receive up to 10% off their premiums for practicing safe driving and avoiding accidents.
Low base rate – Your monthly insurance premium is calculated by adding a mileage cost to a base rate. Base rates may be as low as $30, and your total will increase by only a few cents per mile.[^8]
Similar to Nationwide’s SmartMiles, Allstate also offers a pay-per-mile insurance plan. Milewise is ideal for customers who work from home, work nearby, or are retired.
Allstate’s Milewise program also uses a physical plug-in to track your distance traveled, as well as a mobile app. The device records your mileage and calculates a new premium each month. Allstate Milewise’s rates will vary depending on the following factors:
The information collected by the plug-in might also change your rate. This separate set of variables includes:
Time of day
Accidents or near-accidents
Once a rate is calculated, low mileage drivers can benefit from the following perks:
No travel days – On days where you don’t drive at all, the day rate is fully deducted from your monthly bill.
Miles cap – For road trips, customers receive a mileage cap to avoid a high total.
Full coverage – Customers who choose the Milewise program won’t have to sacrifice comprehensive automotive coverage. Whichever plan you choose, you’ll receive the same level of coverage.
Unfortunately, this plan is not as widely available as Nationwide’s SmartMiles program. Instead, Milewise is available in only 16 states, largely on the East Coast.[^9] If it’s not available in yours just yet, it hopefully will be soon.
Online Auto Insurance: Made For All Drivers
No matter how much you drive, Online Auto Insurance can help.
With OAI, high-mileage and low-mileage drivers alike can compare quotes from dozens of insurance providers at the touch of a button. Simply use our search engine to find the plan that best fits your budget, vehicle, location, and driving habits.
The OAI blog is also a one-stop-shop for all your insurance questions. Whether you’re looking for the best insurance for electric cars or suddenly find yourself wondering, “does insurance cover natural disasters?” we’ve got the answers you need.
Quit spending time comparing plans and start enjoying comprehensive, affordable automotive protection. In other words, start using Online Auto Insurance!
Insure. How Does Mileage Affect Car Insurance Rates? https://www.insure.com/car-insurance/mileage-and-car-insurance-rates/
Farmers. Does the Distance of My Commute Affect My Auto Insurance? https://www.farmers.com/learn/insurance-questions/auto-insurance-commute-distance/
Farmers. Full Coverage & Types of Car Insurance.\ https://www.farmers.com/auto/coverage/
Progressive. Car Insurance.\ https://www.progressive.com/auto/
Progressive. Snapshot. https://www.progressive.com/auto/discounts/snapshot/
Progressive. Use The Name Your Price Tool. https://www.progressive.com/auto/discounts/name-your-price/
USAA. Auto Insurance: Car and Insurance Quotes Online. https://www.usaa.com/inet/wc/auto-insurance?akredirect=true
Nationwide. Pay-Per-Mile Care Insurance. https://www.nationwide.com/personal/insurance/auto/discounts/smartmiles/
Allstate. Milewise from Allstate.\ https://www.allstate.com/auto-insurance/milewise.aspx
[^1]: Insure. How Does Mileage Affect Car Insurance Rates? https://www.insure.com/car-insurance/mileage-and-car-insurance-rates/
[^2]: Farmers. Does the Distance of My Commute Affect My Auto Insurance https://www.farmers.com/learn/insurance-questions/auto-insurance-commute-distance/
[^3]: Farmers. Full Coverage & Types of Car Insurance. https://www.farmers.com/auto/coverage/
[^4]: Progressive. Car Insurance. https://www.progressive.com/auto/
[^5]: Progressive. Snapshot. https://www.progressive.com/auto/discounts/snapshot/
[^6]: Progressive. Use The Name Your Price Tool. https://www.progressive.com/auto/discounts/name-your-price/
[^7]: USAA. Auto Insurance: Car and Insurance Quotes Online. https://www.usaa.com/inet/wc/auto-insurance?akredirect=true
[^8]: Nationwide. Pay-Per-Mile Care Insurance. https://www.nationwide.com/personal/insurance/auto/discounts/smartmiles/
[^9]: Allstate. Milewise from Allstate. https://www.allstate.com/auto-insurance/milewise.aspx