HOUSTON – The coronavirus shutdown has most of us driving much less. Roads are empty, and traffic accidents are way down. It’s why some consumer groups started lobbying car insurance companies last month to lower premiums for customers.
“(Insurance companies) have got to act on this because the rates are clearly excessive,” said Robert Hunter, CFA’s Director of Insurance, explaining the crux of the letter. “People aren’t driving. They need to have lower charges.”
The group got no reaction from insurance commissioners and insurance companies pushed back.
“The insurance industry’s reaction back in March was ‘We don’t have to do that. You don’t know what you’re talking about,’” said Hunter.
Fast forward to April 6. Allstate announced it would pay every customer 15% of their premiums for the months of April and May.
“People are driving a whole lot less,” said Glenn Shapiro, president of Allstate Personal Property and Liability. “There are a lot (fewer) accidents, and we thought the right thing to do is act quickly.”
Each Allstate customer will receive about $60 on average.
The announcement sent other major auto insurers racing to also do the right thing.
Geico is giving back 15% of customer’s total premiums when they renew their policy between April and October in the form of a credit.
Liberty Mutual says it will give customers back 15% of two months of premiums.
“It’s no longer a debate about should we do it at all," said Hunter. “Now the debate is going to be moving on what is the right amount? Fifteen percent is way to low.”
Farmers Insurance upped the ante, giving customers back 25% of their April premiums.
USAA is doing the same, but refunding 20% of two months of premiums in the form of a credit.
State Farm announced it will give its customer back 25% of their premiums owed between March 20th and May 31st in the form of a credit they will see on their June bills. State Farm says on average, it will be abou $20 back per vehicle insured for March, April and May.
But what if your insurer is one of the last hold outs not one offering money back? Hunter says you should pick up the phone and call them and say, “Look, AllState’s done it. Progressive has done it. Where are you?”
If you tweet the company, use the hashtag #GiveMeaCovidBreak.
Not every company will send you a check. Allstate will if you download the company’s app and request it there. Otherwise, you will get the money back in the form of a credit on a future bill. Some companies are actually making you renew your policy to get back the money on your current policy.
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