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Nationwide SmartMiles review

If you drive less than 12,000 miles per year, a pay-per-use auto insurance policy may be the right choice for you.

Pros

  • Drivers can earn a 10% discount after their first renewal based on safe driving habits
  • You don’t need to install an app or purchase anything to enroll.
  • Nationwide doesn’t share any of your cell phone data.

Cons

  • Driving more than you anticipate could cost you more than a traditional auto insurance policy.
  • Data is transmitted wirelessly, so hacking issues are possible.
  • Nationwide SmartMiles is only available in 40 states and DC.
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Our take on Nationwide SmartMiles

Pay-per-mile policies track your mileage to adjust your rates monthly by how much you drive, offering savings for people who drive less than average.

SmartMiles is a good pay-per-mile choice if you don’t want to use an app on your mobile device to track miles – the telematics device plugs into your vehicle and shares data wirelessly rather than through your mobile phone.

Giving up some measure of privacy is inevitable when a driver uses a telematics device. Still, the benefit of a more individualized rate based on your driving habits may outweigh the privacy concerns it adds.

Nationwide shows an example of a driver saving close to $40 per month on their auto policy by using SmartMiles — but this example driver only drives 6000 miles per year. If your annual mileage is higher, say 10,000 miles per year or higher, your rates may be comparable to traditional policies. Though, this is typical for most usage-based insurance options on the market.

SmartMiles users can also tap into an extra 10% discount if driving data proves you’re a safe driver. The downside? Bad driving habits can mean a rate increase at renewal.

How Nationwide SmartMiles works

Nationwide SmartMiles tracks your mileage and records your driving habits with a small device that plugs into your car.

A SmartMiles policy is made up of a base rate plus a per-mile rate. Your base rate and cost per mile stay the same throughout your entire policy — but the amount you pay varies per month depending on how many miles you drive.

Nationwide calculates your base rate based on a number of individual rating factors, like your vehicle, your location and your driving history. Your per mile rate is based on the same factors, and averages around 5 to 7 cents per mile.

Nationwide combines your base rate plus cost-per-mile multiplied by the number of miles driven in the month to calculate your monthly premium. The first 250 miles driven each day count toward your rate, and the rest of your miles driven that day are free.

The device also measures your driving habits, like hard braking or fast accelerations, driving late at night, or speeding. Drivers may qualify for up to a 10% discount based on safe driving habits. But bad driving habits could mean an increase at renewal.

How to join Nationwide SmartMiles

You don’t need an existing Nationwide auto policy to access a SmartMiles policy, you can simply request a quote online.

If you’re happy with your quote, you’ll start an application process. The application process mirrors a typical auto insurance application process, requiring your personal details such as your name and date of birth, plus your driving history and current insurance policy information.

Nationwide mails you a device to plug into your car

When you enroll in SmartMiles, Nationwide mails your device. If you enroll more than one vehicle in the program, you receive multiple devices marked with their assigned vehicle make and model, so you know which device to install in which vehicle.

Nationwide has a helpful video available on its site to walk you through installation. When sitting in the driver’s seat, locate the port in your vehicle to plug in the SmartMiles device – usually near the steering wheel. With your ignition switched off, plug in the device and three lights will flash to indicate it’s installed correctly — now it’s ready to track your miles.

How much can I save with SmartMiles?

Drivers who drive 10,000 miles or fewer annually can see savings with SmartMiles, but if you drive more than that, you may end up paying more than you would with a traditional auto policy. The average number of miles driven annually is about 13,500, so consider your driving commitments — like work commutes — before purchasing a pay-per-use policy.

If you’re a low-mile driver — less than 4,000 miles per year — you could see savings up to $444 per year. The savings with Nationwide’s SmartMiles program are comparable to other pay-per-mile competitors.

SmartMiles also offers a 10% discount for safe driving, as measured by the telematics device. But, if your driving habits don’t support the discount, you won’t receive the discount and your rates may go up instead.

SmartMiles monitors 5 driving habits to rate your driving

SmartMiles collects and measures five types of data to help set your rates. How many miles you drive makes up the bulk of how your rates are calculated each month.

On top of your mileage, the device measures your driving behaviors to determine if you’re eligible for an extra 10% savings:

  • Time of day you drive. Since late-night driving can be riskier than daytime driving, avoiding driving after midnight can signal good driving habits.
  • Braking habits. Frequent hard brakes can hurt your driving score.
  • Acceleration habits. Quick acceleration counts toward a low driving score, and GPS shows if you don’t stop for traffic lights or speed through school zones.
  • How often safety measures are deployed. Any safety measures your vehicle deploys can be transmitted, which could include emergency braking systems or lane-change alerts.

SmartMiles shares your data within the company, but you can opt out

Nationwide’s privacy policy includes that it may share data within its family of companies for marketing purposes — meaning if it notices your driving habits align with another product it sells, you may receive marketing materials. Customers can opt out of data sharing at any time by calling Nationwide at 866-280-1809.

Nationwide SmartMiles reviews and complaints

The SmartMiles program began in 2019, so it doesn’t have any reviews specific to it’s telematics program. However, Nationwide is a well-established company with many reviews. It has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Nationwide’s rating with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) shows it receives fewer complaints than competitors. Nationwide earned a J.D. Power score of 876 for customer satisfaction in auto claims in 2020, above the industry average of 872, but below some competitors like Allstate and Amica.

Most online complaints center around Nationwide’s claims handling, limited coverage and early rental car cut-offs.

SmartMiles vehicle requirements

Consider these vehicle requirements before opting into the SmartMiles program.

  • Hybrid vehicles, diesel vehicles and models earlier than 1996 may not be compatible with the telematics device Nationwide uses.
  • Your vehicle must have a functioning OBD-II port available for use.
  • If your battery is older or not working optimally, the device could drain your battery.
  • If your vehicle’s check-engine light is on, your mechanic first needs to unplug the device to service your vehicle.

Alternatives to Nationwide SmartMiles.

Name Product Roadside assistance New car protection Accident forgiveness Safe driver discount Available states
Progressive
Optional
30%
All 50 states & DC
Discover coverage that’s broader than competitors, valuable discounts up to 30% off and perks like shrinking deductibles that reward no claims.
Root
52%
Available in 31 states
Track your driving to receive a low rate that reflects your driving skills, and enjoy a fully app-based policy experience.
Allstate
Optional
13%
All 50 states
Your dedicated agent can help you find the best savings with multiple discounts and rewards programs.
Motion Auto
Optional
No
AZ, TN, UT & WI
Reap a myriad of rewards based on how safe you drive and car safety features, plus free accident forgiveness and diminishing deductible.
Liberty Mutual
Optional
30%
All 50 states & DC
Earn free accident forgiveness after five years claims-free and customize your policy anytime online at the tap of a button.
Metromile
Optional
49%
AZ, CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, VA, WA
Pay only for the miles you drive, plus enjoy app services you won’t find everywhere like claims and car health updates.
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