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What carriers told us: The latest on pandemic relief measures


October 21, 2020   by Adam Malik


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With $1 billion in auto premium relief made available for Ontario drivers alone, drivers across Canada shouldn’t expect more premium relief coming from their carrier, at least in the near future.

Canadian Underwriter reached out to a number of insurers that offered pandemic relief measures through the spring and summer to get an update on what offers were still on the table, and if future rebate announcements could be expected. No new rebates were in the offing, all of the carriers contacted confirmed. That said, they are still monitoring the situation as it evolves, and many continue to offer other relief options such as flexible payments and waiving fees.

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic in March. Government-ordered business lockdowns ensued in an attempt to prevent the virus, which brought the economy to a halt. At the outset of the pandemic, property and casualty insurance companies started to announce measures designed to help clients navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Canadian Underwriter kept a running list of the latest announcements.

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario announced on Oct. 1 that drivers in the province have been eligible to get $1 billion in relief from insurers — up about $300 million from its last update in May.

That means the average Ontario driver received a discount of about 7%. (FSRA said relief was made available to about 90% of the province’s 6.6-million drivers.)


iStock.com/joshlaverty

“That’s a significant amount,” Justin Thouin, co-founder and CEO of LowestRates.ca, told Canadian Underwriter about the FSRA data. “We know that insurance companies are giving back significant funds to drivers.”

Insurance Bureau of Canada said a summer survey showed insurers offered more than $1 billion in personal and commercial insurance premium relief as of June, as well as almost $200 million in deferred premiums. Updated data is expected to be available soon, a spokesperson noted.

“This is real, tangible support for Canadians who are focused on supporting their families and businesses during this uncertain time,” IBC told Canadian Underwriter. “Insurers continue to make decisions based on the needs and situations of their customers throughout this transitional period.”

What insurers told us

Although no new, additional relief measures are expected in the immediate future, most insurers contacted by Canadian Underwriter said they are still working with clients, either directly or through their broker partners, to provide assistance where needed.

Intact Insurance, for example, said it wound down its program in the summer — July 31 was the last day for a customer to request a premium adjustment that would be valid for 90 days after the request was processed. Theoretically, even if the request was submitted by July 31, but it wasn’t processed until Aug. 10, it would be valid for 90 days after the Aug. 10 processing date.

“We remain committed to offering flexibility for customers who are most vulnerable due to COVID-19,” Intact told Canadian Underwriter in a statement. “We will continue to offer flexibility for these customers on a case-by-case basis.”

Aviva Canada reported that its Stay-At-Home endorsement remains in effect and has no expiry. “Customers simply need to inform us through their insurance brokers or agents when they intend to start using their vehicle again and the endorsement will be removed,” the company said.

Aviva did note that it placed a 90-day expiration on discounted premiums. However, if a policyholder’s driving habits did not change after those 90 days, they can have their policy re-rated.

CAA pointed out that it gave a 10% reduction on home and auto policies for the entire term — so upwards of 12 months — and was the only company to do so.

Travelers Canada confirmed no additional premium credits were expected, but would let Canadian Underwriter know of any changes. Aviva said it was in contact with regulators and provincial governments in regard to future relief measures.

iStock.com/Mark Dymchenko

“We have no new relief measures to report from our last update, but continue to monitor the situation and are working closely with our broker partners to support our customers in any way that we can,” a Northbridge spokesperson told Canadian Underwriter.

As for other measures like waiving non-sufficient funds fees, offering flexible payments and offering grace periods, most are still currently in place; however, some insurers are requesting clients to contact them or their broker for details.

“We continue to provide flexible payment options, including payment deferrals, waived NSF fees, and adjustments to payment frequency and methods,” Economical said in a statement to Canadian Underwriter. “Additionally, customers always have the option to change their coverage if they are driving less or not driving at all. “

Wawanesa told Canadian Underwriter that it encourages “policyholders to speak with their insurance broker, who can walk them through the many options we have put in place to help them save money during this time.”

The Ontario Mutual Insurance Association noted that while most measures are still in place, some member companies may be transitioning to a more “business as usual” approach.

The Commonwell Mutual Insurance Group confirmed that it has removed all of its temporary measures and returned to normal business processes. However, “We have enabled agility within our organization to quickly respond and be pro-active to changes in the market to ensure our members are supported through these times,” the company noted.

Desjardins said that while it, too, is offering flexibility for clients suffering hardships, it’s also continuing to offer temporary auto insurance coverage for deliveries for no additional premium. And for those working from home, Desjardins is still offering increased coverage of $10,000 for losses affecting home-based business property, such as a new computer or chair.

 

Feature image by iStock.com/Pheelings Media



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