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Customers not lauding insurers’ relief measures, but they aren’t shopping around either


June 8, 2020   by Greg Meckbach


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The majority of Canadian motorists surveyed are not satisfied with the financial relief measures offered by their insurers, a recently-released Leger Marketing poll indicates.

“What struck me as interesting was that although 52% said they were not satisfied, 40% [of respondents] are not going to shop around,” said Anne Marie Thomas, senior manager of partnerships at Toronto-based InsuranceHotline.com, which commissioned the online poll of 1,265 Canadians.

Motorists were asked whether their insurance company offered them any financial relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly two thirds (64%) said no while 25% said yes, InsuranceHotline.com said Tuesday.

Relief measures could include a one-time rebate, temporary premium discount, premium deferral, and waiving fees for non-sufficient funds on payments, Thomas said.

“I find it interesting that a lot of the respondents said no relief was offered, whereas I think it might be that they didn’t know that they were being offered,” she said of the survey her firm commissioned.

Between Mar. 15 and Apr. 30, insurers who are members of the Insurance Bureau of Canada have returned more than $460 million in premium relief to Canadians, averaging close to $90 of relief per policy over this period, IBC told Canadian Underwriter Friday.

In the InsuranceHotline.com poll conducted May 15-17, motorists were asked how they rate their level of satisfaction with the financial relief measures they were offered. One third were satisfied, 15% preferred not to answer and 52% said they were not satisfied, said Thomas.

Only responses from those who have an auto insurance policy are reported. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

For Thomas, the biggest surprise was that 40% do not intent to shop around.

“My guess would be the perception that it is a cumbersome process to shop for insurance. It’s not a fun thing for consumers. It is very simple when you go online, but I don’t think a lot of consumers think about how easy it can be.”

Intact’s relief measures came up last month during a fireside chat between Charles Brindamour, CEO of Intact Financial Corp. and Barclays’ financial services analyst John Aiken.

“We have re-assigned almost 1,000 people since the start of [the COVID-19 crisis] to deal with the extra volume of requests to extend payment and premium relief. So far it’s about 515,000 people asked us for relief,” said Brindamour.

In its financial results for 2020 Q1, Intact estimates its COVID-19 relief measures will impact premium levels in Q2 and future periods by more than $200 million. As of May 4, 2020, Intact said it had provided over $130 million of financial relief to about 390,000 customers.

“This is more than marketing talk. It’s real money for many people across the land and hopefully everyone understands that,” Brindamour said May 13 during the fireside chat.

For its part, InsuranceHotline.com has a calculator on its website so a consumer could enter their information and their insurer and find out about that insurer’s relief measures.

Respondents to the poll came from different parts of Canada, including provinces with government-run auto insurance. More than a third (492) were from Ontario while 335 were from Quebec, 89 were from Atlantic Canada, a combined total of 110 were from Saskatchewan and Manitoba, 111 were from Alberta and 128 were from British Columbia.

Of the $460 million that IBC members returned to their client, $320 million was in the form of reduced auto insurance premiums, an IBC spokesperson said Friday.

Insurers have also deferred more than $118 million in premium payments for Canadians affected by COVID-19.

“These relief measures will remain in place until the end of June, and IBC expects the final tally to significantly exceed the initial estimate of $600 million,” the IBC spokesperson said.

An update to relief measures from specific insurers is posted to Canadian Underwriter’s website.

Feature Image: IStock/alexsl

 



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