Sixty-seven percent of drivers say they are driving significantly less than normal during the pandemic. As car owners find themselves using their vehicles less, major insurance companies across the country have responded by refunding premiums or granting credits to their customers.
Insurance companies are providing many forms of financial assistance to their customers, but unfortunately drivers aren't taking full advantage of the help.
- Only 31% of consumers have asked their auto insurer for financial assistance, but 80% of them were successful.
- Policyholders have had this high level of success across different types of financial assistance, including payment extensions, discounts, refunds and waived late fees.
- Nearly half of surveyed consumers (49%) received the pledged discount of 11% to 25% on car insurance.
- Lack of awareness is the main hurdle to consumers asking for financial help. More than a third (39%) didn't know it was an option.
- As much as 18% of men asked their insurer for a discount, versus 9% of women, and 22% of men asked for a payment extension compared to 13% of women.
- Among respondents, 28% said they did not ask for help because their finances weren't impacted by the coronavirus, and another 30% said they can still make a payment even though their finances were impacted.
Only 31% of consumers have asked for financial assistance from their auto insurer
Insurance companies are offering several forms of assistance to their policyholders. In our survey we define this assistance as a discount, payment extension, waived late fee or a refund on a premium already paid. But many drivers aren't taking advantage of these various types of assistance. Only 31% report that they've asked for help.
The good news for unaware drivers is that many insurance companies are automatically returning funds to their customers in the form of refunds or credits. So regardless of whether they contact their insurer, policyholders may see a reimbursement in their bank account or on their bill in the coming months.
But companies are offering financial assistance beyond refunds and credits, including payment extensions and waived late fees. Similar to refunds, customers have been successful in obtaining assistance when they reach out.
Given the success rate, and the various forms of assistance, consumers who need financial assistance should look into what's available. Even if their car insurance isn't their main financial burden. Be sure to look into your insurer's policy on COVID-based assistance, check your statements for any refunds or credits due, and reach out to ask for any other help you may be eligible to receive.
More men and young drivers are asking for financial assistance
The willingness to ask for financial help from auto insurance companies was not consistent across age and gender. Men were much more likely to ask for financial assistance than women, and Gen Zers and Millennials were much more likely to ask for assistance than Gen Xers, baby boomers or the silent generation.
Regardless of gender, men and women were equally successful in securing a discount. Although only half as many women asked as men, 80% of all women and men who asked for a discount received one from their insurer.
The same holds true across generations: the majority of those who asked were successful. Gen Zers and boomers were the least successful in getting a discount after asking, but an overwhelming majority of them (75%) did.
Irrespective of age or gender, policyholders should contact their insurers about discounts or payment extensions, as our survey indicates there is no difference in success rate for these requests.
Insurance companies are honoring their refund pledges
By now, almost all major insurance companies have publicly pledged to provide financial assistance to their policyholders. One of the main forms of help they've pledged is premium credits or refunds.
The most common credit/refund pledged is 15% that will be applied to two months' worth of premiums, resulting in cheaper car insurance for the near future, with the potential for further savings depending on how long driving behavior is altered.
Our research indicates that insurance companies aren't just doing lip service with their pledges. Just about half of those surveyed (49%) said they are indeed receiving a discount of 11% to 25%. Another 17% of drivers said their discounts ranged from 26% to 49%.
ValuePenguin commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,006 Americans who have auto insurance. The survey was fielded April 14–16, 2020.