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Pandemic Driving is Still Down But Will Insurers Grant More Relief in Massachusetts?

It is no secret to people who regularly commute to work or who have continued to do so despite the pandemic that has resulted in so many retail and other businesses being shut down, including here in Massachusetts, that traffic volume on our highways has been significantly reduced. A substantial number of employers have allowed and now encourage its employees to work remotely. So, given the decrease in traffic volume over the past year, have insurers given its policy holders a break in their premiums and, if so, will they continue to do so?

Covid Car Accidents

In the months since businesses were forced to shut down or employees chose to or were told to work at home or any other location other than the office, many insurers did offer premium decreases to its auto policy holders. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners reported that a number of auto insurers generally decreased premiums by 15% to 25% for a month or two. State Farm gave credits of around 25% for 2 ½ months, and reduced rates by around 11%. GEICO offered 15% reductions off entire policies purchased or renewed between April 8 and October 7, 2020. USAA gave 20% credit for the months of March to May, and 10% in June and July.  Be careful, though, some companies encourage you to not buy PIP, or Personal Injury Protection, insurance – this is no fault coverage that helps with medical bills and lost earnings even when fault for the accident is at issue.  

Given the overall reduction in the number of traffic accidents and claims, auto insurers are benefitting substantially. In its 3rd quarter, Progressive showed an underwriting profit that rose 66% with a 44% rise in overall profits over 2019 due to far fewer auto accident claims. In response to some skepticism over the relatively paltry decrease in premiums offered to insureds, the Insurance Information Institute reported  that nearly $14 billion was returned to auto policy holders over the past year. Insurers have also donated around $280 million to charitable organizations related to the Coronavirus.

As indicated above, giving insurers a modest decrease has done nothing to harm the bottom line of any of the top insurers. Also, a survey published by the U.S. PIRG’s Education Fund Affiliate found that the top 10 insurers in each state had not given its customers more than 50% off of a single month’s premium. This record hardly generates sympathy for the insurance industry, which has the appearance of profiting greatly from the consequences of the downturn in driving.

However, State Farm recently announced that it would adjust its rates for customers following a policy review as it found that its customers are generally driving more since January and that auto claims are up. With vaccinations ratcheting up, traffic may be expected to increase to approach pre-pandemic levels by the end of the summer, which means that relief in the form of premiums is less likely. 

What You Can Do About Auto Insurance Premiums

You should review your past auto insurance statements to see if you did receive a credit or decrease in premiums for any period of time. Customers can always request a payment history from their insurers. Other steps to take include:

    1. If you have not been asked over the past year by your insurer, request a policy review, especially if you no longer commute or you have substantially decreased your overall driving.
    2. Shop around for other insurers and compare rates. 
    3. Be aware that insurance rates vary based on your age, driving record, type of car, and where you live.
    4. Consider raising your deductible, especially if your driving has reduced since your risk is now lower. You pay less if your deductible is high, but you will have to pay more to an auto body shop if you suffer property damage in an accident.
    5. Some insurers offer a device installed in your car that tracks driving habits and frequency as good driving habits can lead to reduced rates. If you speed frequently or have a habit of slamming on your brakes, this will not present you in a favorable light. 

Damages in Car Accident Claims 

Damages in any personal injury case depends on a variety of factors that your car accident attorney can explain to you. In most claims, damages consist of:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future income loss
  • Emotional distress
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Spousal claim for loss of consortium

To get the full benefit of a claim and available compensation, retain a car accident attorney who can obtain, develop, and present your damages to give you the best opportunity to recover as much as possible for your accident injury.

Retain a Car Accident Attorney from Burns and Jain

While car accident claims are the most prevalent or common injury claims presented, insurers will often contest liability and challenge the amount of damages. By retaining a highly experienced car accident attorney from the law firm of Burns and Jain, you can be assured that your claim and your damages will be vigorously pursued, and all responsible parties held accountable. Call us at (617) 227-7423 for a free, in-depth discussion of your car accident injury case.