With fewer people on the roads during the coronavirus outbreak due to social distancing guidelines and high unemployment rates, many auto insurers are giving back premiums as a result.
While your car insurance rate may not be a top priority in the middle of a pandemic, it never hurts to know what options are available and how you can save money during financially tight times.
» MORE: 8 ways to save on car insurance
Below, you’ll find a summary of which companies are offering coronavirus refunds, discounts or credits and the details of those offers.
Coronavirus rebates by auto insurer
21st Century customers with an active policy on April 1 received a 25% refund for the months of March and April. In addition, customers with an active policy on May 1 received a 15% refund for May. The company said they planned to send all refunds as a check at the end of May or early June.
Allstate says its auto insurance customers will get, on average, 15% back based on April, May and June monthly premiums. Money will be returned using the existing method of payment (credit card, check, etc.). The company says people using the Allstate app can get faster payments. Allstate is also extending coverage to consumers who use their personal vehicles for commercial purposes while there is an emergency order in their state.
American Family gave its car insurance customers $50 per vehicle if they had a policy in place on March 11, 2020, the day the World Health Organization declared the pandemic. Refunds were issued by paper check.
In addition, anyone who has or purchases a policy from July 1 through Dec. 31 will automatically receive a 10% credit during the months they have coverage. If you have already paid your premium in full, you will receive a refund check.
Auto-Owners’ customers received a 15% refund for April and May payments, with most refunds issued by May depending on your state. Rebates were automatically applied, with any remaining balance returned via check or automatic payment method.
CSAA (a regional AAA insurer)
CSAA gave customers a 20% refund on two months’ worth of premiums. Customers who had an active policy on April 30 should have received payment by mid-June. An additional 10% refund will be issued for customers with an active policy on June 30, with refunds being sent out in mid-July. Those payments will be credits for customers with a bill. Customers whose policies are paid up will get a refund to the account they used to pay their bill. CSAA is also extending coverage for customers using their cars to deliver food or medicine through June 30.
Erie Insurance is making adjustments to drivers’ rates. The company also issued refunds to customers who had policies in place on April 1. The refunds equaled about 30% of customers’ premiums for two months, according to Erie. Checks were issued in mid-May, and customers didn't need to do anything to receive the payment.
Farmers refunded 25% of private auto premiums for April and 15% of premiums for May for all customers, except for New York drivers. Instead, New Yorkers received one 40% credit based on full-term auto premiums as of May 7. Customers received credits on their next bill, and those who already paid their policies in full received a refund. There was no action required to receive the credit or the refund, and Farmers says it will continue to monitor the situation to see if more action is needed.
Geico is giving renewing auto and motorcycle customers a 15% discount on their entire policy (typically 6 or 12 months) when they renew between April 8 and Oct. 7. This discount will also apply to new customers joining Geico. You don’t need to do anything special to take advantage of the discount except renew your policy.
The Hartford gave a discount to all its customers who had an auto insurance policy in place on April 1. Those customers received a 15% credit toward their April and May payments. The credit was automatically applied, and customers did’t need to do anything to access it.
Kemper offered a 15% credit toward April and May payments for customers with car insurance policies in effect on the last days of those months. The credit was applied to the next month’s bill. Customers who have already paid up received a refund. No action was required to claim the credit or refund.
Liberty Mutual and Safeco
Liberty Mutual and its subsidiary, Safeco, issued 15% refunds on two months’ worth of payments to car insurance customers with policies active on April 7. The refund will either be a check or a deposit to the account you made the payment from. There is no action required to get your check. Refunds were issued for most states by May 20. New York and Michigan customers should receive their refunds by the end of June. Liberty Mutual also extended coverage of personal vehicles for customers who use them for commercial purposes related to the COVID-19 outbreak (delivering medicine, food, medical supplies, etc.).
Mercury refunded 15% of two months’ worth of payments to its auto insurance customers. Those payments were returned to the accounts they came from, and no action was required.
Nationwide skipped the math and offered a simple $50 refund to its auto insurance customers. Anyone with a policy active on March 31 received the refund, and no action was required. The funds were deposited back into customers’ payment accounts. This was a per policy refund, not $50 per vehicle.
Progressive gave its customers 20% of their April and May payments back in all states except New York. Alternatively, New York customers received credits for May and June. These credits applied to anyone with an active auto policy at the end of each month and didn't require any action. If a policy was already paid up, the 20% was issued as a refund to the customer’s payment account.
State Farm is giving customers about 25% back on auto insurance payments made between March 20 and May 31. State Farm says on average, that will work out to $20 per month, per vehicle. In addition, the company is working to reduce car insurance rates in all states, with an 11% rate cut on average.
Travelers is giving its auto insurance customers a 15% rebate for April, May and June payments. The credit is available to anyone who has or had a policy in place between April 1 and June 30. This means you can receive a refund even if you are no longer a policyholder. The credit will be automatically applied, and customers who have already paid up will receive a refund to their payment accounts. If you paid through payroll deduction, you will be mailed a check.
USAA gave a 20% credit on three months’ worth of payments for all customers who had an active auto policy between March 31 and April 30. Those credits were automatically applied, and customers did not need to take any action to receive them. USAA also extended policies for customers whose personal vehicles will be driven for business use. This coverage excludes delivery through a rideshare company.
Why auto insurers are giving money back
In a report published in March, the Society of Actuaries — the folks who do the math behind insurance — said, “Increased social distancing and remote work may lead to less auto coverage exposures and potentially to less auto insurance claims.” In short, fewer accidents means fewer payments for insurers to make.
For example, traffic in Iowa fell 40% to 50% compared with the same period in April 2019, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation.
Fewer cars on the roads means fewer accidents. The New York City Open Data project shows collisions in March declined by over 35% from 2019 to 2020.
As seen above, many insurance companies have returned some money to their customers because of these changes.
What to know while waiting for your refund
Now that you've seen what rebates your insurer is offering, a few important points.
First, none of the insurers listed here require you to do anything to get a refund (if they’re offering one). The Federal Communications Commission has warned consumers that there’s a chance for an increase in scams during the confusion of the coronavirus. Don’t be fooled by anyone claiming to be working for your insurer, asking for personal details to process a refund — none should be required.
Second, a refund might not be the only offering your auto insurance has. Many companies are also easing payment deadlines and pausing cancellations for nonpayment. There are things you can do to keep your coverage if you’re struggling to pay for it. Keep in mind, not all relief options have been extended past May, though some have. Check with your insurer for updates.
Third, many of these benefits are still awaiting state-level approval. Regulators have a lot of moving parts to keep track of, and refunds might not be part of their long-term plans.
Because of this, relief options may vary depending on your state. New York drivers in particular should look for specific refund guidelines. For instance, in most cases New Yorkers can expect to receive refunds in May, June and July rather than April, May and June.
Finally, if your driving patterns have significantly changed, this can affect your coverage. For instance, you may now be delivering food or goods for your employer in your personal vehicle. This would normally require commercial auto insurance. Some insurance companies are temporarily overlooking this distinction, but not all. It’s best to check with your provider before using your car to support your job.
» MORE: Compare car insurance online
What might come next for auto insurance
Many insurers are still figuring out how the coronavirus is going to impact their businesses. Some of these refunds will likely be extended, especially for companies operating in more heavily affected regions. Other options for consumers to save money on their car insurance may also arise as state regulators take action.
You can also take matters into your own hands. If you’re driving less, paying too much or unhappy with how your current auto insurer is handling the pandemic, shop around and compare car insurance rates. The only way to make sure you’re paying the right price is to know what’s available. Even if you’re getting a rebate, it may not make up for the extra costs you’re paying. Keeping it all in perspective can help save you money now and over the long run.