Ask an Agent: Pay-Per-Mile vs. Traditional Auto Insurance

Should you make the switch to pay-per-mile auto insurance?

With AAA auto insurance, you pay a single flat fee—no matter how far you drive.

BLACKWHITEPAILYN / Shutterstock

The Ask an Agent series answers popular questions about car insurance with expert advice from AAA Insurance agents. In this installment, agent Katrina Harrington discusses some pros and cons of mileage-based and standard premiums.

What is the difference between pay-per-mile and traditional auto coverage?

Harrington: With pay-per-mile insurance, you pay a base rate and then for each mile that you drive, your insurance company charges you a certain amount—and it could be cents or dollars, depending on the company. With the pay-per-mile insurance, the more you drive, the higher the rate can get. With traditional insurance, like the policies AAA offers, [you get] unlimited mileage. We don’t charge for mileage at all. You can drive as much as you want, and your insurance will be the same price.

How can I choose the best type of coverage for me?

Harrington: Pay-per-mile insurance can be a good type of policy for someone who hardly drives at all, like a “snowbird” who comes to Arizona from colder [states for] the winter. They’re only here part-time. As long as they have a good driving record—because that could definitely impact what you pay per mile—that might be the way to go. But for people who drive back and forth to work every day, who take trips, or who maybe don’t have a great driving record (who’ve had an accident or a ticket), traditional insurance would probably be the best option.

It sounds like pay-per-mile can save low-mileage drivers money. What are the downsides?

Harrington: There are a couple downsides. Since these [policies] are [offered by] newer insurance companies, they don’t have a lot of claims experience. Also, because they’re newer, we don’t really know their AM Best rating. We don’t know how their customer service, claims, and financial records are. Also, a lot of times with those companies, you’re required to plug a device into your car [that] tracks where you drive and could also look at driving habits like acceleration and speeding. Some people might want to steer away from that.

How does AAA compare?

Harrington: AAA has an AM Best rating of A. We’re financially stable. You can reach customer service 24/7, and we have quick claims service. I carry AAA insurance, and I personally had [to file] a claim. AAA got me into a shop the same day, and my car was fixed within a week or two. AAA handled everything on the back end, so I didn’t have to do too much myself. The claims representative that I worked with was amazing and even followed up with me afterward to make sure everything was OK.

I recommend researching an insurance company before you switch. You want to make sure that you have someone looking out for you, instead of just trying to earn a dollar. AAA is definitely there for our Members.

About the Agent

Katrina Harrington joined AAA in 2012. She provided customer service to Members in 22 states from the AAA Insurance Group Operations Center in Glendale, Arizona, before becoming an insurance agent. In 2017, she relocated to the AAA Peoria Branch.

  • Childhood nickname: Kat.

  • Favorite vacation spot: San Diego. I try to go every year.

  • Hobby: Reading. I’m definitely a bookworm.

  • First car: 2000 Pontiac Sunfire.

  • Dream car: 2020 Chevy Blazer.

  • Favorite movie: Titanic.

  • Favorite book: Killers of the Flower Moon.

How to contact AAA Insurance agent Katrina Harrington:

AAA Peoria Branch
7422 W. Thunderbird Rd.
Peoria, Arizona
(602) 230-3120
[email protected]

Provides assistance in English.

Read more Ask an Agent articles:

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of AAA. Products and their features may not be available in all states. Multipolicy and other discounts vary based upon eligibility. Discounts not cumulative; certain restrictions apply. Term Policy Form Series: ICC11-1201/TL-1201. Insurance products in California offered through AAA Northern California Insurance Agency, License #0175868, in Nevada by AAA Nevada, in Utah by AAA Utah, in Arizona through AAA Arizona, Inc., License #8301727, and in Wyoming through AAA Mountain West Inc., License No. 172603. The provider of AAA Auto and Home Insurance is CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA Insurer. All policies are subject to policy terms, underwriting, guidelines, and applicable laws.