MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - As cars sit in the driveway, and everyone puts a tighter hold on money, drivers may have a new way to save a few dollars on their car insurance policies.
Consumer Reports quotes traffic data analysts saying personal vehicle travel in the United States is down nearly 50 percent right now, compared with typical traffic volume. So, some insurance companies are offering rebates, some up to 15 percent, on their premiums.
“Traffic is down a huge amount because of people staying at home and doing the right thing and being safe,” said Barry Keith, a reporter for Consumer Reports. “One of the good benefits of that is that it means that there are fewer claims that insurance companies are paying out because there aren’t people stuck in traffic, trying to get to work, rear-ending someone when they’re looking at their phones. And that’s good news. The estimates that I’ve seen say that insurance companies might end up paying out about 100 billion fewer dollars in claims this year compared to last year. That’s the industry as a whole.”
Consumer Reports touched base with the top 20 car insurance providers in the country and says all of them reported plans to work with customers through this time when money for everyone is short.
"Almost every insurance company wants their policyholders to stick with them," said Keith. "So they're making it easier for people to pay their bills, they're allowing premiums to be deferred. They're not necessarily forcing people to have a repair done within a particular amount of time because they know that that might not be possible and it might expose people to the virus."
For most companies, the rebates will show up as discounts on future bills.
"Sometimes it's going to be in the form of a lower bill that month, sometimes it's going to be at the time of renewal. When you renew your policy, you might just get a credit on there. It might be at the end of the April May period, but it's all happening automatically. So people don't have to call clog up the phone lines, wait on wait on hold with someone else," Keith explained.
For drivers who are struggling to pay their premiums currently, Keith says don’t ignore the bills and let your policy lapse.
“That can be a lot more expensive in the long run. So what you should do is you should call your insurance company and tell them what’s happening. I mean, they’re getting calls like this a lot. I’ve spoken to insurance commissioners in different states, I’ve spoken to different insurance companies and they’re all sort of prepared to work with consumers to make sure that you’re not an uninsured if you need a claim. And if you’re having trouble paying your bill, most companies are putting through premium deferrals, you will eventually have to pay those premiums. So get ready for that, but they’ll make it a little easier for you, at least for April and May. It’s what we’ve been hearing. And I wouldn’t be surprised if that continues out a little bit further,” said Keith.
“A lot of companies we talked to said that they were going to spread that out. So it doesn’t mean on June 1, you’re going to have your April and May premiums do. They’re going to try and at least spread that out over maybe a few months. Again, be proactive call Your insurance company and let them know don’t take no for an answer if they say we can’t do that, you know, be polite, obviously, everyone’s in. Everyone’s in this together. And folks on the other end of the call center insurance agents are, are having trouble too. But just, you know, let folks know the situation, the situation you’re in and that you want to keep paying it, and that you’re going to do your best and see if you can work something out. And it seems like now with everyone in similar boats that the time is that that is a possibility.”
Consumer Reports says it's important to take notice of how your insurance company treats you right now, and if you're not happy or satisfied, it may be time to switch.
“You can shop on price. You can also go to car.org. And find out we have surveys, survey data from 90,000 people on 53 different insurers and some of those companies that you see a lot of ads for, and you might have heard of those might not be the best companies out there in terms of customer service in terms of savings. And that’s, that’s something to keep in mind that it might actually be a smaller local insurer, or you know, someone who you might not have heard of, that’s going to provide the best service and the lowest price for you.”
Read Consumer Reports full report here.