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King County
Executive Office

Ron Sims, King County Executive 701 Fifth Ave. Suite 3210 Seattle, WA 98104 Phone: 206-296-4040 Fax: 206-296-0194 TTY Relay: 711
Image: King County Exeutive Ron Sims, News Release

March 27, 2007

King County gets $1.9 million to test drive innovative statewide car insurance program

A statewide pilot program initiated by King County that links car insurance rates to the number of miles driven has won a $1.9 million federal grant. Unigard Insurance and the Washington State Department of Transportation are partners in the five-year program that for the first time will collect comprehensive data about driver behavior when insurance rates are based on actual vehicle usage.

The federal grant, combined with other public and private matching funds, will allow King County and its partners to launch the Pay-As-You-Drive project beginning next year. The pilot will be phased in over a five-year period and will recruit 5,000 vehicle owners from all across the state of Washington. 

Senator Patty Murray's support was instrumental in helping King County receive the grant that is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation's national strategy to reduce congestion with innovative approaches. King County Executive Ron Sims developed the pilot program as a new way of approaching mobility and also reaping the environmental and health benefits of people driving less.

"'Pay-As-You-Drive' could revolutionize how people use their cars and be a powerful tool for improving mobility, improving air quality and reducing global warming," said King County Executive Ron Sims. "This is an example of the type of innovation I believe is needed to effective address the transportation and environmental issues of the 21 st Century."

"I'm pleased to be a partner in this effort to evaluate new proposals that may reduce congestion, pollution and insurance costs for residents of our region," Senator Murray said. "This critical grant funding will help move us forward to identify new transportation options and improve quality of life in communities throughout Puget Sound."

Participants will be provided with a GPS-based device that plugs into their vehicle's diagnostic system. The device will then track where, when, how much, and how fast the vehicle is driven. The data will be used to develop the PAYD insurance product and to price insurance premiums. The less participants drive, the more money they'll save.

The initial project years, managed by King County Metro Transit, will be primarily devoted to data collection. Current research shows pilot participants may be able to cut the miles they travel as much as 15 percent and save $50-100 in annual insurance costs.  And since PAYD should provide a more affordable pricing structure, research shows the program could result in fewer uninsured drivers. Congestion and emissions are also expected to decline due to fewer miles traveled.

-King County and Unigard hope the Pay AsYou Drive program will someday result in a viable insurance product based on miles driven that will eventually lead to fewer car trips. The pilot may also have the additional long-term benefit of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and moving the country toward more energy independence.

Pay As You Drive has the support of several agencies, including, the Washington Department of Transportation, the cities of Bellevue, Seattle and Redmond, , the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, the county's Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Transportation Choices Coalition, the Bicycle Alliance of Washington, Flexcar, Sightline Institute and Climate Solutions.  These partners will help Metro and Unigard recruit participants and support other program elements. Data obtained during the pilot will help determine the viability of mileage-based insurance pricing and will be shared with the Washington State Insurance Commissioner. 

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  Updated: March 29, 2007