McQuiston: Coronavirus & Car Insurance

By ALLEN MCQUISTON
The Jemez Agency

The effects of the coronavirus pandemic are reaching nearly every corner of our lives.

When it comes to your car, it will change the way you buy, finance, and insure it. In the short term, you may be worried about even being able to pay your car insurance premium. You may be considering what changes you should make to your policy to save money and ensure continuing coverage.

Fortunately, most insurers are offering payment relief, halting insurance cancellations, and providing online claims processing. Many are providing partial premium refunds because many consumers aren’t driving very much due to the COVID-19 outbreak. A large percentage of Americans are working from home and following strict stay-at-home orders. Here are a couple of questions and answers I have been providing recently.

What Usually Happens if I Can’t Pay My Insurance Premium?

In normal times, failure to pay insurance premiums on time will result in the policy being canceled. Most cancellation policies have a grace period of up to seven days before the coverage is terminated. Once a policy is canceled, it’s often more expensive once it’s reinstated (if they offer to reinstate it at all). However, insurance companies and their regulators realize these aren’t normal times. Insurers are quickly rolling out new programs and procedures to assist customers who may have suffered a job loss, reduced hours, or medical issues. Each insurance company is responding differently, and the procedures for getting help can shift from day to day. It’s important to reach out to your company as soon as you have an inkling you many need some assistance.

Are Insurance Companies Offering Grace Periods Because of Coronavirus?

Insurance companies are extending grace periods and halting cancellations for customers who can’t make their payments due to the coronavirus pandemic. In some cases, the leniency is being ordered by state insurance regulators. Most of the companies have announced case-by-case programs to assist consumers. With some companies, any payment deferral or forbearance is done on a case-by-case basis. Before you miss a payment, you should contact your auto insurance company or agent online or by phone to find out whether you can take advantage of a COVID-19 payment deferment. If you miss a payment without talking to the company first, it can be harder to take advantage of their hardship program.

Stay safe and healthy as we begin to open up.

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