Stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic all but emptied the roads in April and May. With fewer people driving to work, and most people only making trips for essentials such as groceries and prescriptions, cars were largely left idle in driveways across the country. Many auto insurance carriers recognized their customers would be paying for unnecessary coverage with such reduced driving. As a result, almost across the board, they offered financial assistance with refunds or credits typically in the range of 15-25% of premiums.
For the millions who have lost work during this unprecedented time, however, even a reduced car insurance bill may still be too difficult to afford. Here are a few great ways for you to negotiate a refund, or alternatively, lower your monthly car insurance expenses to keep more money in your bank account as our economy gets back on its feet.
Request a Refund
Many insurance carriers are submitting 15-25% refunds of premiums to their policyholders. But could you possibly get more? It only takes a few quick minutes to call your insurance agent or your carrier directly to find out if a better refund or credit may be available. Let them know that if you only drove 10% of your typical monthly mileage during lockdown, as such, the company’s risk exposure was demonstrably lower, and therefore a refund should be commensurate with such reduced risk.
Further discounts may be available to you as we move forward into the “new normal.” Now would be an opportune time to discuss and update your policy with your agent For example, if you plan on working from home for at least the next few months, you can expect to be driving a lot less. You could ask for a discount or adjustment to your premium based on this lowered expected mileage. It may also be worth looking into what other discounts may be available to you, such as discounts for bundling policies, maintaining a good driving, or insuring multiple cars.
Ask to Waive Late Fees
Many auto insurers have been willing to work with customers financially affected by the pandemic. In addition to refunds and discounts, depending on your carrier, you may be able to request any late fees be waived during this period. If you are struggling to pay bills, your insurer may have a hardship program that gives you a grace period for you to pay your premium late without incurring any late fees or losing coverage. Call your insurance agent directly to find out if such a hardship program may be available to you.
Discuss a Payment Plan
Some insurance providers, like GEICO, automatically paused cancellations of policies due to non-payment of premiums during this pandemic. The major providers have, in general, shown a willingness to work with their customers during this unprecedented period of financial hardship. Irrespective of who provides your auto coverage, if you anticipate not being able to pay your premium, contact your carrier in advance to get ahead of the issue. You may be able to agree on a special payment plan that could include delayed payments. Further custom payment options may be available to you on a case-by-base basis.
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Shop for a Different Insurance Provider
If negotiating with your current auto insurance company doesn’t yield much in the way of results, it’s a good idea to begin shopping for a different provider. Policyholders who are current on premium payments may be able to save hundreds of dollars by finding better rates or even better coverage for the same rates elsewhere.
Your first step here will be to research what competing companies are offering in terms of discounts or rebates, both during the pandemic and looking ahead. Then, ask your current carrier to match any such available offers. As a customer in a very competitive insurance market, your provider will want to hold onto its customers. This could ultimately help give you leverage to negotiate a better deal. Of course, if your current insurance carrier does not accommodate you, especially in light of changed circumstances from the pandemic, if you search for it, there may be better options waiting for you in the marketplace.