One of the more striking visuals of the current coronavirus pandemic is the lack of vehicles on New Mexico roads and throughout the country. During the first week of April alone, passenger vehicle travel throughout the U.S. cut nearly in half when compared to early February.
The drop in traffic has resulted in auto insurance costs falling due to insurance providers reducing their rates and even returning money in the form of checks or credits.
Credits and refunds in a time of crisis
While the extra money is helpful to those laid off or furloughed from their jobs, the amount of cash does not seem to line up with the actual reduction of traffic accidents. In metropolitan areas such as Washington, D.C., and New York, crashes were down 30% in March compared to the same time last year. Stay-at-home mandates were not imposed until late March, meaning that April’s discounts should be more substantial.
Depending on the insurance company, drivers could see future bill credits and refunds ranging from $20 to $50 per vehicle. Many insurers are offering future rate cuts, but the specifics are not clear. An added benefit is that insurers are letting customers delay payments by a month or more, with some deferring and spreading out payments for the remaining time that the insurance policy is active.
However, not driving does not mean that the policy is useless or unnecessary. Canceling or allowing it to lapse to save even more money could backfire, as restarting insurance can result in additional charges, negating any benefit from the refunds and credits.
Uncertainty continues amid the current global pandemic. With vacation destinations still shuttered or starting to reopen slowly, reduced traffic could last well into the summer, bringing the potential for additional discounts. However, prolonged lockdowns beyond the summer may see insurance costs rise due to disruptions in the supply chain of collision repair parts.
As with everything about the coronavirus pandemic, what we don’t know continues to exceed what we do know.