How Yearly Mileage Affects Auto Insurance Rates

How much you drive per year can have a huge impact on your auto insurance rates. Read more about the yearly mileage rate factor here.
Closeup dashboard of mileage car.

A wide range of factors determine your car insurance premium. These factors include things beyond your control, such as your age or gender. But you can influence a few, including your driving record, credit rating, and annual mileage.

When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. The more you drive, the more opportunity there is to have tickets and accidents. If you get either one, it costs your insurer money. Because of this, you’ll likely receive higher rates if you drive more miles per year. Some providers look at your commute, while others assess how often you’re on the road.

In this article, you’ll learn how insurers determine rates based on how many miles you drive in a year. We’ll tell you about pay-per-mile or usage-based insurance and how it differ from regular coverage. Finally, we’ll answer a few common questions about how yearly mileage is a rate factor.

Why Yearly Mileage is a Rate Factor

Your car’s yearly mileage is a major rate factor, because it can help insurers predict your overall risk of filing claims. When you’re on the road more often and for longer periods of time, there is a higher chance that you could end up in an accident. In other words, there’s more opportunity for error.

Insurance companies will typically want to know your average annual miles. But they may want to know how long your commute is. How frequently you drive may also come up. All of these data points help insurers determine your risk and set your rates accordingly.

How Insurers Assess Your Mileage

There are several ways that insurers evaluate your average car mileage per year. One metric is the total number of miles you drive annually. But that’s not the only benchmark that insurance companies use to measure and price your driving activity:

How Many Miles You Drive Per Year

The average mileage per year is one of the stats your insurer will take a look at. Putting more miles on your car will cause your premium to rise. Reducing your driving means you’ll likely pay less for coverage.

According to Kelley Blue Book, driving 7,000 or fewer miles annually will get you the biggest low mileage discount. Insurers sometimes refer to this as “occasional driving” or “pleasure use.”

How Long Your Commute Is

A commute is how far you travel between your home and your workplace. Commuting miles are the number of miles you drive to work each day. Commuting to work is one of the major reasons why people drive in the first place. Your insurers know this and will often factor in your commuting miles when assessing your yearly mileage.

Typically, your rates won’t go up unless you drive more than 20 miles to work each day. Insurers usually ask you to disclose this information when you apply for a policy. If you move or change your workplace, you’ll want to tell them so you don’t accidentally pay more than you need to.

You should also note that some providers will factor in the location of your commute. Commuting in a rural area is less risky than if you were to drive through a densely populated city.

How Often You Commute

How many times you commute to work each week may also be something insurers look at. A higher commuting frequency means you’re on the road more often. This might cause insurance providers to raise your rates.

Your Car’s Total Mileage Normally Isn’t a Factor

You may be wondering whether or not your mileage is affecting your rates. Luckily, most insurers don’t consider the number on your odometer. They’re more interested in how often your car is on the road at any given time. A report stating how many miles you drive each year helps them know how often you’re on the road and how much of a risk you are to get into an accident.

But you should keep in mind that your vehicle’s age is also a rate factor. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Older cars usually cost less. With this logic, your premium may cost less as your car ages. You should be sure to speak with your agent if you have any questions about how your insurer specifically uses your car’s age to price your rates.

Pay-Per-Mile Insurance

Some insurers offer pay-per-mile or usage-based programs as an alternative to standard insurance policies. These programs allow you to only pay for the number of miles you’re driving, plus a set low monthly premium.

Pay-per-mile has everything you’d expect to find in an insurance policy. This could mean liability-only all the way up to full coverage. The general idea is that customers will only pay for what they need and nothing more.

This pricing structure differs significantly from regular or traditional policies that require you to pay a monthly premium. But your rates are based on several factors about you. Your annual mileage is only one part of the conversation in this case. Traditional insurance also focuses on allowing customers to get discounts. An argument against this is that it may be difficult to lower your rates if your driving record is spotty. Even if you’re a safe driver right now.

Pay-Per-Mile vs. Traditional Auto Insurance

With pay-per-mile and traditional insurance both being options, you may be trying to decide which one works best for you. The answer will vary depending on how much you drive.

Here’s why you might choose one or the other:

Who Should Consider Pay-Per-Mile

You should consider usage-based insurance if you don’t drive often, because you won’t overpay for your monthly rates. While some traditional insurers reward you for driving less, pay-per-mile will only charge you for the exact amount you drive, plus a low monthly fee.

Who Should Get a Traditional Policy

Traditional insurance is useful for people who drive a lot of miles. This would be someone who commutes to work each day. Just note that if you drive a large number of miles per year, you should make sure you’re getting the best rates available. To do this, you should try shopping around between each company.

Low Mileage Discounts

Most insurers don’t have an official discount for low mileage. But providers generally do reward drivers who keep their miles low. Driving between 7,000 to 12,000 miles per year will usually do the trick. Your provider will track this either by asking you to report your annual driving or by having you use a telematics device. These gadgets record your driving habits so you can save more money on your monthly insurance rates.

The exact amount of savings for lowering your mileage will depend on your insurer. To find out more information, you should speak with your agent about savings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What average annual mileage is ideal for low rates?

The best car mileage for your rates is around 7,000 to 12,000 miles each year. Having a little more may not affect your rates. But keeping your driving within this range will make sure your rates stay low. It might also put you in line for a big discount.

While there isn’t an official low mileage discount, insurers will likely lower your rates accordingly if you drive less. This is because you pose less of a risk. Your provider will have more information about how much you can save for keeping your driving to a minimum.

Do auto insurers check yearly mileage?

Your insurer will likely ask you to report your odometer reading each year or when you apply for your policy. They may also track your driving with a telematics device. These devices will track your mileage and driving habits so you can get possible discounts.

Some companies will also ask you to provide the number on your odometer throughout the year. This way they’ll know if you’re being truthful. Keep in mind getting into an accident will likely reveal your mileage as well.

Why do insurers ask how many miles you drive per year?

Insurance companies ask you how many miles you drive so they can predict your risk as a driver. Driving more miles means you’re at a higher risk to get into accidents. This’ll likely cause them to raise your rates.

How do providers check your mileage?

Insurance providers might use several methods to confirm your annual mileage:

  • Simply asking you
  • A picture of your odometer
  • Using telematics devices that track driving
  • Visual inspection by an agent or representative

What happens if I lie to my provider about my mileage?

Lying to your insurance company is never a good idea. They’ll almost always find out. If they discover that you’ve misrepresented something on your policy, such as your yearly mileage, you’ll likely face one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Policy cancellation
  • Claim denial
  • Criminal insurance fraud liability
  • Being labeled a high-risk driver

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