With millions under stay-at-home orders and working remotely, American roadways are seeing a lot less congestion and accidents. That means less risk of insurance claims — and auto insurers are taking note.
Just over 80% of American auto insurance companies have announced that they will refund or credit drivers more than $6.5 billion over the next two months, according to a new report from the Consumer Federation of America.
But those refund programs vary widely from insurer to insurer. Initiatives from State Farm and American Family received high marks from the consumer advocacy group for the amount of relief offered and the speed at which it's promised to be delivered. However, others fell short.
"It's clear that for the bulk of insurers, there's room for improvement — even among those providing relief," says Birny Birnbaum, executive director of the Center for Economic Justice. "There's certainly room for those who haven't taken action to provide relief."
If you are somebody who's had a particularly significant drop in mileage, you may want to call your insurance company and ask to be re-rated as a lower mileage driver, says Doug Heller, an insurance expert with CFA. This would make sense for someone who used to have a 50-mile daily round trip commute who's now working from home and only driving to the grocery store once a week, for instance.
"This is the same advice we give to people who retire from their job: Call your insurer and tell them you're not driving to work every day anymore so you should be re-rated as a lower mileage driver," Heller says.
In addition to the refund programs, many insurers are offering financial hardship programs that could provide those struggling to pay their bills with a grace period to pay their insurance premiums late without incurring late fees or losing coverage. But you'll need to call your insurer to find out if this is available and specifically request this type of relief.
Don't just let your car insurance lapse with the intention of buying a new policy when stay-at-home orders are lifted. Many times, you will face a higher cost. "We definitely don't recommend people drop their coverage unless they're literally getting rid of their cars," Birnbaum says.
CNBC Make It rounded up a list of insurance companies that have announced initiatives for drivers during the current coronavirus health crisis. Keep in mind that some insurers are providing relief on a case-by-case basis and you may not qualify for all of the programs.
If your insurance company is not listed, you should still reach out directly to ask about what assistance it can provide. We will update this list as we receive more information.
As of April 10, AAA Northern California says customers with an auto insurance policy in effect as of April 30 will receive a refund worth about 20% of auto premiums for two months. For those who pay in installments, the refund will be applied against customers' next payment after May 31, 2020. For customers who paid in full, CSAA will return the money to the payment account it has on file.
CSAA will also pause cancellations for home and auto policies due to non-payment and offer flexible payment options through May 31, 2020.
For more information or to request assistance, contact 1-800-207-3618, Monday through Friday 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. PT and Saturday and Sunday 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT.
Allstate announced that personal auto insurance customers will receive a payment worth about 15% of their monthly premium in April and May through its Shelter-in-Place Payback program. The insurer will automatically deposit the funds or credit the card used for the payment.
Allstate will also provide free Allstate Identity Protection for the rest of the year for customers when they sign up in April or May. Those facing financial challenges can request a special payment plan that delays payments for 60 days with no penalty.
For more information or to request a payment grace period, contact Allstate's customer service at 1-877-810-2920 or contact your local agent.
As of April 6, American Family rolled out its Auto Insurance Premium Relief Payment plan, which will provide customers with a one-time, $50 payment for each vehicle insured under a personal auto insurance policy. American Family says it will print and mail checks for customers as it receives approval from each state's insurance regulator.
For more information, contact American Family's customer care center at 1-800-MYAMFAM (1-800-692-6326) or your local agent.
As of April 9, Amica Mutual launched a COVID-19 Auto Premium Relief Program in which every customer that had an automobile, motorcycle or RV insured with Amica on April 1 will receive a credit worth about 20% of their monthly auto premiums for April and May, pending regulatory approval. Amica says the credit will be issued in two installments, one in May and one in June. Customers who paid in full, or have no remaining balance, will receive a refund check.
Additionally, Amica will offer upon request a penalty-free grace period on payments for insurance premiums for those affected by COVID-19 and has stopped cancellations and non-renewals of policies through June 2, 2020.
For more information or to request assistance, contact Amica Mutual at 1-800-242-6422.
Auto-Owners Insurance will provide a refund to personal automobile policyholders of about 15% of the premiums paid for the months of April and May.
For more information, contact Auto-Owners Insurance customer service at 1-517-323-1200.
As of April 9, Erie Insurance announced it would cut rates on personal and commercial auto insurance policies, for a total reduction of $200 million throughout the 12 states it operates in. CFA warns that this program fails to provide any immediate relief to customers. It's "actually only promising to cut rates sometime in the future," CFA says.
Erie also said that it will offer flexible payment and billing options for customers experiencing financial hardship upon request.
For more information and to request assistance, contact Erie's customer care team at 1-800-458-0811.
For April, Farmers is reducing auto insurance premiums by 25% on Farmers branded and 21st Century branded policies. The discount will be automatically applied as a credit on customers' next billing statement. Those who paid in full will receive a refund for the amount of the reduction.
Farmers will also offer payment flexibility where state rules mandate and automatically pause cancellation policies for non-payment through May 1, 2020. Any unpaid balance will carry over to your next billing statement with no late fees.
For more information or to request assistance, contact Farmers at 1-800-238-9671, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6:50 p.m. CT.
As of April 8, Germania announced a Reduced Driving Payback program that will issue customers a $50 credit for personal auto policies that were in effect in March and April. For customers who paid in full, Germania will issue a refund check.
Germania will also waive installment fees for all customers through the end of May and modify its claims process to accommodate the growing number of vehicles being utilized for delivery purposes.
For more information or to request assistance, contact Germania at 1-800-392-2202, ext. 4811, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The GEICO Giveback program will offer auto and motorcycle insurance customers an automatic credit worth about 15% of the next full policy term up for renewal between April 8 and October 7, 2020. If your policy is $1,000 for six months, for example, your credit will be $150 at your renewal, GEICO says.
GEICO will also automatically pause cancellations of policies due to non-payment and policy expiration through at least April 30, 2020.
CFA cautions that GEICO's program only applies to new and existing customers who are renewing over the next two to six months, so only about one-third of GEICO's policyholders will see any savings during the stay-at-home orders currently in effect.
For more information, contact GEICO at 1-800-207-7847 or through the insurer's mobile apps.
As of April 10, Hanover announced the creation of the Hanover CARES Refund, in which the insurer will refund 15% of April and May auto premiums to eligible customers. Hanover will credit in-force policies in May and June. Those who have pre-paid premiums will receive credits in each of the same months.
Hanover will also offer flexibility on bill payment options, waive late fees and extend at least a 60-day hold on cancellations and non-renewals for non-payment upon request.
For more information, contact Hanover customer service at 1-800-922-8427.
Insurance company The Hartford announced its COVID-19 Personal Auto Payback Plan that will issue refunds worth about 15% of April and May auto insurance premiums within two months. Customers who paid in full will receive a credit to their credit card, a check mailed to them or have the funds automatically deposited in their bank account.
Additionally, The Hartford will waive late payment fees and stop policy cancellations for non-payment until May 31 upon request.
For more information or to request assistance, check out The Hartford's customer care center or call auto insurance representatives at 1-877-896-9320.
Kemper announced its Deserved Premium Credit, which will automatically issue refunds worth about 15% of auto insurance premiums for April and May and will be credited against customers' May and June payments. Customers who paid their policy in full will receive a refund of the credited amounts.
For more information, contact Kemper at 1-877-252-7878 or reach out to your local agent by phone or email during business hours.
Liberty Mutual announced its Personal Auto Customer Relief Refund that will issue refunds worth about 15% of auto insurance premiums for two months. Liberty Mutual estimates it will start issuing refunds in the coming weeks, once it has approval from state insurance regulators.
Liberty Mutual will also extend payment dates if needed, automatically stop charging late fees and temporarily pause personal auto and home coverage cancellations due to non-payment through at least May 22, 2020.
For more information or to request assistance, contact Liberty Mutual through its app or by calling 1-800-290-7933.
Mercury Insurance announced a Customer Giveback Program, which will issue credits worth about 15% of monthly auto insurance premiums for two months. The insurer will automatically credit customers' accounts, pending approval from state regulators.
For more information, contact Mercury at 1-800-503-3724, or email email@example.com.
Nationwide issue a one-time premium refund of $50 per policy for personal auto policies active as of March 31, 2020. The refund is roughly equivalent to 15% worth of premium payments for two months. The insurer estimates the refund will arrive in the next 30 days, pending regulatory approval.
Nationwide will also work with customers experiencing financial hardship by suspending the cancellation of some policies, deferring payment deadlines and waiving some late fees upon request.
For more information or to request assistance, home and auto customers can contact Nationwide at 877-669-6877, and business customers can reach Nationwide at 888-508-8622.
As of April 10, NJM (also known as the New Jersey Manufacturers Casualty Insurance Company) says it will refund the equivalent of 15% of annual premium payments that personal auto insurance policyholders paid over the last three months. The insurer says customers can expect to receive their refunds, via check or direct deposit, in the "coming weeks."
NJM will also extend premium payment deadlines and provide special payment options. In New York, NJM will offer 60-day extensions to policyholders who request it through April 28 and will not charge late fees or initiate any debt collection or credit actions for failing to pay premiums.
For more information or to request assistance, contact NJM at 1-800-232-6600.
As of April 1, Plymouth announced it will issue a credit for liability and personal injury protection coverage customers worth about 25% of auto insurance premiums. Plymouth also rolled out a "pay it forward" option, which gives customers the option to donate their credit to a non-profit that is providing relief for those hit hardest by COVID-19. A list of charities available for donations will be made available in the coming days, the insurer said.
Plymouth will also waive late fees, extend at least a 60-day grace period on payments and place holds on cancellations and non-renewals for non-payment upon request.
Additionally, Plymouth says auto insurance customers who are health care workers and involved in an accident while driving to or from work, or in the line of duty, will not have to pay their comprehensive and collision deductible.
For more information or to request assistance, auto insurance customers can contact their local provider.
Progressive announced its Apron Relief Program, which will issue a credit worth about 20% of auto insurance customers' April and May premiums and will be applied against customers' May and June payments. For customers who paid in full, Progressive will return the money to the payment account it has on file.
Progressive will waive late fees, pause collections and place holds on cancellations and non-renewals for non-payment through at least May 15, 2020 upon request. The insurer will also grant payment leniency.
For more information or to request assistance, contact Progressive at 1-800-PROGRESSIVE.
As of April 8, Shelter Insurance will pay policyholders approximately 30% of their monthly premium for their personal autos for the months of April and May. The company plans to deposit the money directly into your checking account if you paid directly from your bank account. Otherwise, it will send a check.
Shelter will also offer to temporarily suspend cancellations of property and casualty policies. Payments on policies that bounce will not result in a cancelled policy, but Shelter will double bill the following month. Additionally, Shelter will waive any reinstatement fees incurred through at least April 30.
For more information, contact Shelter at 1-800-743-5837 or your local agent.
As of April 9, State Farm will issue a dividend credit of roughly 25% of the premium for in-force auto insurance policies between March 20 and May 31, 2020, applied against customers' bills beginning as early as June. State Farm estimates the 25% credit will likely be around $20 per month for each vehicle insured and says dividends will automatically appear as a credit on customers' auto policies.
State Farm will also offer financial assistance programs, but customers need to call their local agent to discuss the options available.
For more information, contact State Farm by phone at 1-800-STATE-FARM (800-782-8332) or use the company's mobile app.
Tennessee Farmers will issue a special payment to customers that is approximately 24% of auto premiums paid for each vehicle covered over the past two months. Policyholders should start receiving checks in May 2020.
For more information, contact Tennessee Farmers's customer service at 1-877-876-2222 or your local insurance agent.
As of April 8, Travelers announced a Stay-at-Home Auto Premium Credit program, in which the insurer will automatically issue U.S. personal auto insurance customers a credit worth about 15% of their April and May premiums. It will be applied against future payments. Customers who paid in full will receive a direct payment.
Travelers will also waive late fees and interest, as well as place holds on cancellations and non-renewals for non-payment through at least May 15, 2020 upon request.
For more information, contact Travelers's U.S. personal insurance line at 1-800-842-5075.
West Bend announced it will send a one-time payment of $50 to customers who had bundled home and auto policies and had their vehicle insured as of March 11.
West Bend has also suspended cancellations of policies due to non-payment through May 31, 2020 and will not issue late pay notices or charge late fees.
For more information or to request assistance, you can contact West Bend at 1-800-236-5002, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Every USAA customer with an auto insurance policy in effect as of March 31 will receive a credit worth about 20% of auto insurance premiums for two months. USAA estimates it will start issuing credits toward customers' upcoming bills in the coming weeks, once it has approval from state insurance regulators.
USAA will also waive late fees and place holds on canceling any auto insurance policies for non-payment through at least June 17, 2020 upon request. Special payment arrangements are also available.
For more information or to request assistance, contact USAA auto insurance at 1-800-531-8722.