Pressure on US auto insurers to give Covid stimulus

22 March 2021 | David Young

With President Joe Biden's relief bill signed, sealed and more than 80 million $1,400 stimulus cheques delivered, US consumer advocates and state regulators are pressuring auto insurers to give some Covid stimulus cash of their own

Pressure on US auto insurers to give Covid stimulus

Sigrid Forberg, writes on yahoo!finance

...some providers have signalled that they're willing to do so.

If you've been wondering why you're paying full price for insurance while your car still mostly sits in the driveway, below are four ways to get more relief from your insurer, plus a few other strategies to slash your car insurance bill when money is tight.

Throughout the pandemic, restrictions on business activity and other parts of normal daily life have caused overall driving to drop well below pre-Covid levels, according to the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

The result? Big increases in profits for auto insurers, according to research by consumer advocates. Progressive reported an 82% increase in net income, while Geico's pre-tax earnings tripled during the second and third quarters of 2020, just to name a couple.

The American Property Casualty Insurance Association has said that, in recognition of the situation, insurance providers gave out more than $14 billion in refunds and credits to policyholders over 2020.

But, in March, California's insurance commissioner ordered providers to extend more discounts to auto policyholders, saying companies have "continued to overcharge drivers" during the pandemic.

And in a set of class-action lawsuits filed in Nevada in February, plaintiffs claim that 10 leading auto insurers have kept premiums unreasonably high during the pandemic.

In response to the California ruling, State Farm has already promised to give $400 in rebates and discounts to its customers in the state, citing lower claim rates in the latter half of 2020.

In December 2020, the Consumer Federation of America and the Centre for Economic Justice sent a public letter to state insurance commissioners, saying auto insurers should be required to deliver a new round of refunds to policyholders.

An analysis by the two groups showed crashes down 31% since the beginning of the pandemic compared to the year prior.

The Nevada lawsuits — which name as defendants State Farm, USAA, Geico, Acuity, Liberty Mutual, Farmers, Progressive, Travelers, Nationwide and Allstate — contend that the trend has continued into 2021.

An analysis by the US Public Interest Research Group Education Fund took a state-by-state look at how insurance companies repaid parked up motorists last spring.

"Regardless how much each company profited, the majority of insurers didn't give back more than half of one month's premium," the consumer watchdog says.

But some companies didn't issue refunds or cut rates unless customers called and asked.

With pressure mounting, insurers might be open to reviewing premiums, assuming they are driving less than they have in previous years. But it looks like US motorists have to ask!

Will UK insurers be as forthcoming as those in the US?