Insurance companies are quick to increase their premiums when facing higher claim costs, so it’s reasonable to expect the opposite when claims fall.
Physical distancing to combat the pandemic has meant people are doing a lot less driving. I had to pick up some audio equipment for our new Stress Test podcast the other day at what would have been rush hour in normal times. The roads weren’t exactly empty, but the volume of vehicles was far less than half the usual congestion.
Some vehicle insurers have lowered premiums or offered rebates to clients since the pandemic began, but it’s now clear that many did not. In a recent survey by InsuranceHotline.com, only 25 per cent of participants said they were offered rate relief. Sixty-four per cent said they were not offered any rate relief, and 12 per cent didn’t know. Those who did get some help with their car-insurance premiums were mostly unimpressed. One-third found the measures helpful, while 64 described them as insignificant.
After more than three months of lockdown to fight the pandemic, we’re all hungry to get back to as much of our normal lives as we can. The companies that didn’t step up in the pandemic are hoping that we forget about them in the move back to normalcy. Is there really any point to comparing car-insurance rates when summer’s here, stores are reopening, restaurant patios are reappearing in some cities and travel within the country suddenly seems possible?
For two reasons, the answer is yes. One is to save money. Vehicle-insurance rates vary surprisingly between companies, and you may be able to reduce your annual costs. The second reason is to show companies that there is a cost attached to their unhelpful behaviour during a crisis. Why would you do business with an insurance company that didn’t offer any rate relief in the pandemic and has higher costs than competitors?
PERSONAL FINANCE COLUMNIST
The Globe and Mail, June 11, 2020