Stay-at-home orders have meant Americans are driving less — and many insurers are giving policyholders a break that should appear soon in the mail or on their account. The discounts, announced by some insurance companies in early April, range from 10% to 30%. Most insurance companies are paying the April premium rebate in May and the May rebate in June. Depending on how customers pay their premiums, most will get a credit but some will receive a check.
All auto policyholders are eligible for the rebate as long their company offers it. Consumers can call their car insurance agent or company for details.
The amount of the payback varies, from Allstate’s 15% premium discount for two months to American Family’s $50 per vehicle break, Farmers’ 25% discount for one month and State Farm’s discount over two months of about 29%.
The refunds were given to reflect drivers spending far less time on the road and road crashes dropping by 50% virtually overnight once the stay-in-place orders were issued.
The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and Center for Economic Justice (CEJ), both consumer-advocacy groups, asked state insurance regulators to ensure the relief in mid-March.
But some consumer advocates don’t believe the relief went far enough.
“Because mileage and accidents have fallen by well over 50% during the pandemic, the 15% refunds most auto insurance companies have promised are not nearly enough,” Birny Birnbaum, an economist and executive director of CEJ, said in a statement. “Market forces alone won’t guarantee fair treatment of consumers, so insurance commissioners need to step up and provide the needed guidance and assistance to insurers to do the right thing.”
The rebates will total about $7 billion, but CFA estimates that insurance companies will pocket $100 billion in profits due to fewer claims.
Allstate said in early May that it is likely to offer additional rebates to the ones it already offered for April and May, although Chief Executive Tom Wilson provided no specifics.
CFA has rated companies based on the amount of the rebate. It gave Alfa and Sentry an “F” rating for taking no action. State Farm and American Family received “A” ratings, and Allstate earned a “B” grade for giving more generous rebates.
Few consumers comparison shop for auto insurance, but for those with a little extra time because of the pandemic, it might be worth some research.
(Article written by John Ewoldt)