The coronavirus pandemic may give Mainers a break on their car insurance costs.

Four major auto insurance companies announced they will be providing direct payments or credits to customers to reflect that they are driving less.

Allstate Insurance Co. announced this week that it will refund 15 percent of its customers’ April and May auto insurance premiums, Geico is providing a 15 percent credit as policies come up for renewal, and USAA said it will give its customers a 20 percent credit on two months of premiums. Farmers Insurance notified customers it would cut their April premiums by 25 percent.

The companies said their payments and credits are possible because they are covering fewer accidents as people drive less during the pandemic.

Geico estimated the total value of its credits at $2.5 billion, Allstate said its payments will be $600 million nationally and USAA said its credits will be worth $520 million.

The companies declined to say how much in payments or credits will go to individual states. Eric Cioppa, Maine’s insurance commissioner, said he estimates $1.3 million will go back to Mainers from Allstate, based on the insurer’s premium collections in the state.


The companies said the payments or credits will be applied automatically. A spokeswoman for Allstate said customers can choose how to receive the payback – either through a check, credit on a credit card or applied to future premiums – by logging onto the company’s app.

Cioppa said he didn’t have any data to determine whether accidents are actually down because more people are working from home and schools are closed, but traffic has decreased significantly on the Maine Turnpike since the stay-at-home orders for all but essential employees took effect.

He applauded the programs and said he expects more insurers to follow suit.

“I think that’s the right thing to do in these unprecedented times,” he said. Industry leaders have told Cioppa that more insurers are likely to take similar steps in the coming days, he said.

Other insurers, including State Farm, said they were monitoring conditions while weighing steps to cut costs for customers as unemployment and anxiety increase during the pandemic.

“We are closely monitoring our automobile insurance loss trends and are considering how to best take this into account and return value to our auto insurance policyholders,” said Gina Morss-Fischer, a spokeswoman for State Farm. She said the company plans to decide what steps to take by the end of the week.

Rebekah Nelson, a spokeswoman for USAA, said the company, which caters primarily to service members and veterans and their families, has also agreed to set up special payment arrangements, temporarily suspend late and returned payment fees and stop cancellations for nonpayment of premiums, in addition to the credits.

Cioppa said Maine scrutinizes the finances of insurers when they file rate requests with the state each year. He said any that don’t announce rate cuts or other steps during the pandemic can expect closer scrutiny from regulators looking at their premiums and claims during this period to see why they didn’t act.

Cioppa said the health insurance industry is facing rising costs because of the pandemic, but their premiums are set for the year. He noted that most health insurers have agreed to waive policyholder co-payments and deductibles for coronavirus tests, and some, including Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, have agreed to forgo such payments for treatment if policyholders contract the virus.

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