What You Didn’t Know About How Mileage Impacts Your Car Insurance Rates

Auto insurance providers use your annual mileage driven, along with other factors, to estimate your premiums. Generally, you'll pay higher rates if you drive more often since you are more likely to be involved in an accident.

Advertising & Editorial DisclosureLast Updated: 1/10/2023
Edited By     |  
Written By     |  

Typically, insurers consider several factors while determining your rates, including your age, credit history and yearly mileage. Your premiums can be affected by how many miles you typically drive. More mileage will translate to higher rates and vice versa.

Insurance companies often ask for mileage information; some carriers may check mileage when you renew or apply for auto insurance or even track your mileage with an app or other device. Providing the correct details will ensure you do not pay more than required. Although a low mileage can lower your costs significantly, the insurer will consider many other factors too.

Table of Contents

How Does Mileage Impact Car Insurance Rates?

Car insurance rates vary for each driver, and the more miles you cover, the higher your premium may be. Your driving habits affect the likelihood you will file an insurance claim due to an accident.

Higher mileage driven per year increases your probability of getting into accidents, which can make insurers more likely to raise your costs. If you want to save on auto insurance, finding ways to reduce your annual mileage may help.

Loading...
  • money icon

    Compare Costs

    Depending on where you live, you can find affordable car insurance by comparing costs across insurers if you are within the low-mileage car insurance bracket.

  • smallCalculator icon

    Know Your Mileage

    Underestimating your mileage may cause an insurer to reject your claim in case of an accident, and overestimating may translate to higher premiums than expected.

  • insurance2 icon

    Easy Quotes

    It is easy to get multiple quotes and find the best rate.

While estimating auto insurance costs, companies incorporate annual mileage in their calculations, but it’s not the only factor affecting your premium amount. Additional factors that can impact your insurance costs include your driving record, age, location and credit history.

Generally, insurers rank a driver’s mileage across three mileage categories.

Mileage Categories

Insurers rank their car insurance policy costs across three mileage categories, each with unique policy costs. These categories are low, average and high mileage.

Mileage Categories

badCredit icon
Low Mileage

The low-mileage category is the cheapest and comprises drivers who drive under 7,500 miles per year or less than 10 miles per day.

fairCredit icon
Average Mileage

Average mileage is more expensive than low mileage and includes an annual mileage coverage of 7,500 – 15,000, or 20 miles daily.

goodCredit icon
High Mileage

The most expensive category is the high mileage, with over 15,000 miles annually or 40 miles per day.

How to Know Your Current Mileage

Your annual mileage can vary depending on your lifestyle and driving time. Fortunately, you can estimate your annual mileage in various ways, with the most common method being reviewing official service records for your car.

If you have misplaced the records, you can try contacting your mechanic, as most keep a duplicate of vehicle service histories. Alternatively, you may use the following steps to get a quick manual estimate of your mileage.

1

Fill up your tank

Fill the fuel tank to the brim with fuel. Ensure you continue until the dispenser automatically cuts off.

2

Reset your meter

After filling the tank, find the trip meter and reset it to zero.

3

Follow speed limits

Maintain the speed limit. Speeding consumes a lot of fuel and may not give you an accurate estimate.

4

Drive around

Drive until the fuel tank is empty or almost empty. It may take you a few days or weeks depending on your driving habits.

5

Calculate the car mileage

Determine your mileage by dividing the miles covered, based on the trip meter reading, by the fuel used. You can refuel your car and repeat the method a few times to get a more accurate mileage estimate.

coins icon
AVERAGE ANNUAL MILEAGE

The Federal Highway Administration indicates 13,476 miles as the national average for annual mileage. If you can keep your mileage below this average, you will likely find good rates for standard car insurance coverage. Typically, you save about $86 annually if you stay within 7,500 miles.

Best Cheap Car Insurance Policy Types for Low-Mileage Drivers

Is car insurance cheaper if you drive fewer miles? Auto insurance may cost less if you drive infrequently. If you don’t drive many miles, one way to lower your rates is by purchasing a telematics or pay-per-mile car insurance policy.

With pay-per-mile insurance, you pay a monthly premium based on the miles you cover. Another alternative worth considering is a limited-mileage policy for individuals who anticipate driving less than the average driver.

  • calendar icon

    Pay Per Mile or Telematics

    Pay-per-mile or telematics auto insurance works best for low-mileage drivers. Instead of charging a flat rate, pay-per-mile insurance adjusts your monthly costs depending on the miles you drive per month. To save on your premiums, you will need to drive a maximum of 26 miles in a week.

  • car2Colored icon

    Limited-Mileage Policy

    Limited-mileage policies are for individuals who do not drive much in a year and may be ideal if you use rental cars. These policies allow you to purchase coverage for a specific mileage limit. The criteria for limited-mileage policies may vary across insurers.

  • carColored icon

    Classic Car Insurance

    Classic car insurance features lower premiums because it covers rarely-used vehicles, such as a 1950s Chevrolet Cameo or classic Ford models. If you have a classic car, you may consider this type of insurance to save on costs.

computer icon
MILEAGE-BASED POLICY & TELEMATICS

If you opt for a mileage-based policy, your insurer will use telematics to track your driving performance. Telematics may also track behaviors like hard braking, hard acceleration and other potentially risky actions. However, you can get the best car insurance rates on miles driven if you stick to 7,500 miles or less per year.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does annual mileage affect car insurance? MoneyGeek responded to frequently asked questions about the impact of mileage in auto insurance to help you save on premiums.

About the Author


Mark Fitzpatrick headshot

Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content manager with MoneyGeek specializing in insurance. Mark has years of experience analyzing the insurance market and creating original research and content. He graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts and Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Arts.


sources