Does Your Long Commute Affect Your Auto Insurance Rates?

Last Updated on August 20, 2020

If you have a long commute, then you spend more time on the road than the average driver. When you spend more time on the road, you have more chances to get into an accident. But does a long commute affect auto insurance premiums?

Some auto insurance companies consider your commute when calculating premiums. Other insurance companies do not consider your commute.

Many companies consider your overall annual mileage. If you have a short commute, then your annual mileage could be lower than average, which means you pay cheaper premiums. If you have a long commute, then you could pay more.

Does a long commute really impact auto insurance rates? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about lengthy commutes and auto insurance.

Some Insurance Companies Consider Annual Mileage, While Others Do Not

Does Your Long Commute Affect Your Auto Insurance Rates?A few decades ago, it was common for insurance companies to consider commute length when calculating auto insurance premiums. Some insurance companies continued this practice into the 2000s and beyond: your insurance application may ask for the approximate length of your commute, for example.

Today, it’s no longer common for insurers to ask about your daily commute. Modern lifestyles are more diverse than they were in the past. People don’t just drive to work and back from Monday to Friday, five days a week. Instead, people take road trips, work from home, share vehicles, and have other unique lifestyle habits.

That’s why most insurance companies consider average annual mileage instead.

How Average Annual Mileage Works

Today, some insurance companies consider the length of your commute when calculating insurance premiums, although most insurance companies do not consider it. Instead, most insurers consider your average annual mileage.

The average American drives 8,000 to 15,000 miles per year, depending on your state. Nationwide, the average annual mileage is around 13,000 miles per year, or roughly 1,000 miles per month.

Drivers have longer average commutes in some states, while drivers in other states have shorter commutes. In some cities, it’s normal to commute 30 or more miles to work – say, in cities with sprawling suburbs. In other cities, drivers commute 5 to 10 miles to work – say, in denser cities.

If you’re within the 8,000 to 15,000 annual mileage range, it’s unlikely that mileage will affect insurance. You’re within the normal range. Some drivers drive closer to 15,000 miles per year, while others drive close to 8,000 miles per year, but they’ll still pay roughly the same insurance rates.

Commute Times & Average Annual Mileage

The average person commutes approximately 20 days of the month. If you drive 50 miles one-way to work, then you drive 2,000 miles per month, giving you an average annual mileage of 24,000 – which is nearly double the annual mileage of the average American driver.

Of course, your commute is just one part of your annual mileage. If you live in a remote area, then you might have to drive long distances for groceries. Or, you might take long road trips. Because of all of these factors, your average annual mileage may be higher than you think.

Want to check your average annual mileage? Take note of your car’s mileage today, then check it 30 days from now. Record the difference. Multiply that mileage by 12 to get your average annual mileage. Many drivers think they’re low mileage – only to discover they drive significantly more miles than average.

Do Insurance Companies Increase Price for Higher Annual Mileage?

In most cases, insurance companies will not increase your premiums if you drive significantly more miles per year than average.

According to one study, drivers who drove 25,000 to 30,000 miles per year (two to three times the average annual mileage) paid just $10 more per year for car insurance compared to drivers who drove 10,000 to 15,000 miles per year.

In other words, high mileage does not significantly impact auto insurance premiums. Most insurers will not significantly penalize you for driving more miles per year than average.

Some Insurance Companies Offer Low Mileage Discounts

If you drive significantly fewer miles than average, then you could get a significant auto insurance discount.

Many companies offer low mileage discounts. If you work from home, have a short commute, or frequently cycle or take public transit to work, then you could qualify for a low mileage discount.

Some insurance companies offer low mileage discounts to drivers who drive fewer than 8,000 miles per year. Others require you to drive fewer than 6,000 miles per year.

How do insurance companies know how many miles you drive? Insurance companies may ask you to use an app or install a driver tracking system. This app tracks your driving habits over a 90 to 180 day period. The insurance company analyzes this data, then calculates a custom rate based on your habits. If the insurance company notices that you only drove 3,000 miles within that 180 day (6 month) period, for example, then you could qualify as a low mileage driver.

Compare Quotes to Find the Best Insurer for Your Commute

Some insurance companies consider commute times, while others do not. Some insurers penalize high mileage drivers, while others reward low mileage drivers.

That’s why it’s important to compare as many insurance quotes as possible. Insurers use different formulas to calculate premiums. You might pay $1,000 per year for car insurance with one company as a high mileage driver, only to pay $800 with another company.

By comparing multiple quotes, you can pay the lowest possible rates for car insurance regardless of your mileage.

Consider Adding Coverage as a High Mileage Driver

If you have a long commute, then you are more likely to make a claim than a driver with a shorter commute. Statistically, the more time you spend on the road, the more likely you’ll make a claim.

Fortunately, most insurance companies don’t charge higher premiums even if you have a long commute.

However, many drivers add coverage because they have a longer commute. Because you have a longer commute, you may want to increase your limits. You should also verify you have collision and comprehensive coverage.

Cars with Higher Mileage Are Cheaper to Insure

Drivers with long commutes may actually pay less for car insurance over time than drivers with shorter commutes.

Let’s say you commute 2,000 miles per month, giving you an approximate annual mileage of 24,000 miles per year. After 5 years, your car has 120,000 miles on it.

Now, consider a driver with a shorter commute. That driver has the same vehicle and driving history, yet she only drives 500 miles per month. After 5 years, her car has 30,000 miles on it.

A 2016 Honda CR-V with 120,000 miles on it is significantly less valuable than a 2016 Honda CR-V with 30,000 miles on it. Because the car is less valuable, you’ll pay lower rates for car insurance.

Because of this effect, a driver with a long commute may pay less for car insurance over time than a driver with a shorter commute – due entirely to the value of the vehicle and its wear and tear.

Final Word – Your Commute and Auto Insurance

A long commute does not impact insurance premiums with most insurance companies. Some companies charge slightly higher rates to drivers with significantly more miles than average (25,000 to 30,000 miles), although it’s not a significant difference with most insurers. Similarly, some insurers offer low mileage discounts to drivers with fewer than 7,000 miles per year.

Compare insurance premiums with multiple insurers today to ensure you’re paying the lowest possible rates regardless of your commute time.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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