MetroMile debuts pay-per-mile car insurance in Oregon

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California startup MetroMile is offering a pay-per-mile auto insurance program in Oregon that requires inserting a device called the Metronome that tracks the vehicle's mileage. 

California technology company MetroMile debuted a new insurance product in Oregon Wednesday that charges drivers a monthly fee based on the number of miles driven each month.

MetroMile is targeting low-mileage drivers who may commute primarily by bicycle or mass transit. The Redwood City, Calif., company, which has raised more than $4 million in venture funding, contends that its per-mile payment system will save lower-mileage drivers between 20 percent and 50 percent on their insurance costs compared to equal or better insurance products.

The company issues drivers a proprietary device called the Metronome that plugs into their car to extract real-time driving data. Drivers would pay “a few cents per mile” plus an additional base rate monthly for full insurance coverage, the company said in a news release.

Customers can also access their driving analytics through MetroMile’s online dashboard to help them better understand how they use their car.

In an interview Thursday morning, MetroMile CEO Steve Pretre said Oregon — and Portland in particular — was chosen as the company's launch market for two reasons: The region's embrace of alternative transportation trends and a regulatory environment open to nurturing new ideas.

"The things we have been seeing as we've been out talking to people is that they're saying, 'I've changed the way I'm doing things over the last 10 years, I'm trying to make more use of public transportation, biking to work, living in more concentrated communities so I can walk to the services I use'," he said. "When we look at those factors, Portland is a leader in that mindset and those lifestyle changes that are happening."

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