Category Archives: Auto Insurance

My floodiversary

Getty Images

Today marks one year when my car got flooded, I got stranded, and I learned a huge lesson: I call it my floodiversary.

We keep a small saltwater tank, and to keep the tank healthy, it needs regular water changes. Before the Fourth of July weekend I decided to swing by the local fish store and pick up 5 gallons of water to replenish the tank. That way I could get the chores out of the way in order to relax and enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend.

I got to the store in time and picked up a five-gallon industrial container. I put it in the back, put the hatch down and started the 30-minute trip home. About halfway there, I made a turn. That’s when the trouble started. The car began to lose power. Fortunately I was able to pull over. I tried to start the car. Nothing. A new car…why? Then it occurred to me: the %$@*& water. I went to the back, opened the hatch and sure enough, my trunk had about an inch of water gently sloshing back and forth. I started to try and scoop the water out with the bucket, but it was impossible.

I went back to the car, got in and left the door open and started to assess my options. It was sweltering–about 90 degrees; I was in the middle of nowhere and had spotty cell service. I let my family know where I was and tried to connect to my car’s emergency system. After many tries and fails, and even speaking to an engineer, it was clear the car was not going to start up again. So I waited for the tow truck and my husband, as I swatted mosquitoes and thought about cold drinks and air-conditioning.

The tow truck arrived from the dealership, but the guy was in a hurry. He refused to let me ride back with him, but it was a war of wills. I was determined not to be left on the side of the road, so I stalled by asking him questions until my husband pulled up. We both watched as the car was raised on the flatbed, with water streaming out the back. It was a holiday weekend, so the car would have to sit on the lot in the heat all weekend. My husband had brought a stack of towels, so we did what we could. We looked at each other. No more water in the car.

On the ride back home I called my insurer. They couldn’t do much over the weekend but would be back in touch after the holiday. The next week I got the call. After the deductible was met, the damage was all covered—about $4,500 all in. My insurance also covered the cost of a rental car. The adjuster assured me the car would be fine; it turns out the water had shorted out a panel located in the trunk of the car that connected to its “brain.” But after the ordeal, it was a relief to know the car would be ok and ready to drive after a few days. The adjustor had been pleasant and helpful. “I got to tell you,” he said, “I’ve seen flooding before. But I’ve never seen a car flooded from the inside.”

California Reports $1.2 Billion in Premium Refunds in Response to COVID-19

Insurers refunded $1.2 billion to California policyholders as of June 26, according to actuarial firm Perr & Knight.

The California Department of Insurance (CDI) ordered the refunds to drivers and businesses in the state affected by the COVID-19 emergency. The companies were required to file reports outlining the details of their response to COVID-19.

CDI recently made these reports public, and Perr & Knight,  which specializes in rate filings, published an analysis. Here are some key takeaways:

  • California’s reports have information on the number and percentage of policyholders affected. If the state is a guide, EVERY person with a personal auto insurance policy got a break on premiums, as well as millions of other policyholders, according to James Lynch, Triple-I’s chief actuary.
  • Private auto insurance customers received the largest share of the refunds – a little over $1 billion. Commercial auto customers received about $33 million in refunds, and workers compensation customers received $82.7 million.
  • Commercial multi-peril clients received $11.2 million, commercial liability $7.2 million and medical malpractice $10.3 million.

The reports also have data on payment deferrals (grace periods), which is something that has been underrecognized, in part because it was so hard to quantify.

National Insurance Awareness Day

June 28 is National Insurance Awareness Day, which means it’s a good day to evaluate your insurance coverage and assess your risk.

Triple-I has put together a video to help remind you to review your policies and consider any life changes that might necessitate updating your coverage.

This is also a good time to consider your catastrophe risk. Hurricane season started on June 1st – do you know the storm risk in your area? Do you need supplemental flood or wind insurance? Remember: anywhere that it can rain, it can flood.

Insurers respond to COVID-19 (6/05/2020)

With a number of carriers increasing the credit they are giving on their policies, U.S. auto insurers will return over $14 billion to their customers nationwide in response to reduced driving during the pandemic, according to an Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) estimate.

In May, Triple-I estimated that insurers would return more than $10 billion. Since then a number of carriers have disbursed additional funds, including AAA insurers, Allstate, American Family, Farmers, State Farm, MAPFRE, Travelers and USAA.

Auto insurers are giving refunds to their customers as people are driving less due to coronavirus shut-downs. No action is required by customers to receive credit in most cases, but to learn more, contact your auto insurer.

Insurers Respond to COVID-19 (5/08/2020)

Auto insurance refunds

U.S. auto insurers will return over $10 billion to their customers nationwide, according to an Insurance Information Institute estimate, in response to reduced driving during the pandemic.

We’ve listed many of the companies that are offering refunds here and here. These lists are not exhaustive, so be sure to check with your insurer to see if they are offering refunds or credits. All premium and rate adjustments are subject to regulatory approval.

On May 5, Allstate Corp. CEO Tom Wilson said the insurer would probably grant another rebate to auto insurance customers.  The second round of rebates would vary according to region. On April 6, the insurer announced that it would return more than $600 million in premiums to its policyholders because the nation’s drivers were traveling 40 percent to 55 percent fewer miles following stay-at-home orders. Wilson noted that American drivers are now traveling more miles than in mid-April, but the total is still 30 percent to 40 percent lower than before the pandemic. Wilson said the next refund would be more precise and that Allstate is now distributing the initial payback, which represents 15 percent of monthly premiums in April and May.

Horace Mann, a provider of affordable insurance for educators, is giving customers a credit of 15 percent of two months of auto premiums, as well as a grace period through June on auto, property, supplemental and life insurance payments; enhancing coverages, including extending personal auto coverage to those delivering food, medicine, and other essential goods; and including Identity Fraud Advocacy Services with its Educator Advantage Program for all home, condo, and renters customers to protect against the increased risk due to increased online activity.

Other customer support programs

Erie Insurance is adding gift card and gift certificate reimbursement coverage to the company’s ErieSecure Home® policies, in response to the recent changes affecting businesses across the United States. The additional feature, included at no additional cost, would reimburse customers for remaining balances on eligible gift cards that no longer can be used at independently owned and operated local businesses due to business closures.

Supporting communities

Foremost Insurance and Bristol West Insurance, members of the Farmers Insurance Group of Companies, announced they have contributed $500,000 to the Trusted Choice COVID-19 Relief Fund established by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Inc. (IIABA – Big “I”). The Fund provides economic aid to independent insurance agencies, brokerages, and their owners and employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Horace Mann donated $100,000 to DonorsChoose “Keep Kids Learning” fund, an initiative to help teachers equip the most vulnerable students with educational materials at home. The company provides free online teaching resources, to help teachers adapt to remote learning, and it supports a number of foundations in its home state of Illinois.

Reach out to us in the Comments section and let us know what your company is doing to help ease the impact of COVID-19.

How are consumers perceiving auto insurance during the COVID-19 crisis?

Since people are driving less in the midst of COVID-19 related stay-at-home orders, many auto insurers have responded with premium refunds totaling about $10 billion.

How are consumers reacting to these refunds? A May 5 webinar co-hosted by Cambridge Mobile Telematics’ (CMT) VP of Insurance & Government Affairs, Ryan McMahon, and J.D. Power’s VP of Insurance Intelligence, Kyle Schmitt, shed light on this question.

J.D. Power has been conducting consumer sentiment surveys since March 24. Schmitt said that one key takeaway is that in light of pandemic related layoffs, customers are thinking pragmatically about auto insurance, so the timing of the premium relief announcements was excellent. However, it’s important to note that auto insurance is not top of mind for many consumers struggling to keep the lights on or food on the table, and not everyone is aware of refunds.

Here are a few other key takeaways:

  • McMahon noted that while miles travelled are down, speeding and distraction both peaked in April based on CMT’s analysis, and fatalities are up.
  • Schmitt said that changes in price stability driven by broad market conditions (such as accident frequency) are not well received by consumers who will shop around in response; in contrast to price increases driven by a life event or an accident which consumers tend to take in stride.
  • When it comes to telematics, value is key. Consumers expect to continue to not drive as much in the foreseeable future and are thinking about the cost savings offered by telematics programs, therefore interest in telematics has spiked according J.D. Power surveys.
  • Of those that think their driving rates will remain low 40 percent are interested in telematics.

The panelists were also asked to speculate about possible increases in fraud, and McMahon said that fraud activity always comes with economic reductions, however it’s possible that fraudulent claims may be easier to spot because there are fewer claims.

Some Ways to Think About Virus’s Long-Term Impact on Insurer Profitability

How will the COVID-19 pandemic affect auto insurers in the longer term? No one knows for sure, of course, but a new McKinsey study provides a framework for considering the question.

Fewer people are driving due to business closures and work-from-home practices. This could lead to fewer accidents and claims – but evidence suggests severity of the claims generated may worsen. Speeding has increased in several states – in some cases, leading to fatal accidents.

In the longer term, McKinsey suggests, the pandemic could precipitate structural changes in the market for car insurance: “Mobility trends may pause if more people choose to own a car and drive everywhere because they think ride sharing and public transportation are too risky…. Historically low oil prices will make driving much more affordable.”

On the other hand, if car purchases decrease because of economic uncertainty and unemployment, insurance sales could decline, hurting revenues. The industry already has returned more than $10 billion to policyholders through premium relief during the crisis, which also could affect insurers’ bottom lines.

Four scenarios

The McKinsey report lays out four scenarios to help insurers think about how the economic impact may play out in the longer term.

Pause and rebound. This scenario supposes the economic slowdown will end rapidly and the rebound will occur as quickly as the contraction. Consumers’ behavioral changes are assumed to be limited. Drivers might be a bit more conservative after the shutdown, exhibiting more caution, leading to fewer accidents which would help insurer profitability.

“Pent-up demand, supply-chain innovation, and infrastructure commitments would pull the economy to near pre-COVID-19 levels within weeks,” McKinsey writes.

YOLO (You Only Live Once). This scenario is defined by a rapid economic rebound but also more aggressive driving behaviors: “Fueled by cheap gas and a disdain for shared mobility, the roads and highways would become more crowded.”

Under this scenario, McKinsey writes,  accident severity would continue to climb, putting pressure on insurers to raise rates. The sudden drop in accident frequency during the pandemic, followed by a rapid escalation, “could strain the accuracy of actuarial techniques and regulatory expectations.”

Retrenchment. Difficulty managing the virus and complications from the business shutdown lead to a lengthy economic downturn: “As in the pause and rebound scenario….new behavioral norms would result in less travel, redefine entertainment, and contribute to a more cautious outlook on life.”

Favorable trends in claims frequency would continue, and claims severity would moderate in line with the more conservative behaviors.

But, McKinsey writes, “consistent with economic conditions, a surge would occur in the nonstandard market and state risk pools. Fraud would also spike as a by-product of economic pressures.”

Insurers could face consumer and regulatory pressure to return more premiums or reduce them further and expand coverage. Profitability would suffer.

Black swan. Worst case for economic contraction and behavioral changes. New behavioral norms  generate a YOLO outlook and compromise policing capabilities. Accident frequency would rise sharply. Claims severity would continue to climb.

“In addition,” McKinsey writes, “regulatory pressure could push rates down further or force expanded coverage,” exacerbating worsening profitability.

McKinsey analyzes the potential impact on auto insurers under each of these scenarios and associates each with a projected combined ratio – the most frequently used measure of insurer profitability.

Resources:

With Less Freeway Traffic Due to Coronavirus, There’s More Speeding and That Worries CHPLos Angeles Times, March 19, 2020

Statistics Show Speeding is Out of Control During Corona CrisisStreetsblog NYC, March 24, 2020

CORONAVIRUS WRAP-UP: PROPERTY AND CASUALTY (4/27/2020)

Accounting Rules
NAIC Working Group Approves Flexible COVID-19 Accounting Rules
Automobile Insurance
How the Coronavirus Could Change U.S. Personal Auto Insurance
Business Interruption
Travelers, Insured Law Firm Spar Over Civil Authority Business Income Loss Claim
States Seek to Force Insurance Companies to Pay Those With Business Interruption Policies
Covid-19 Business Interruption Existential Threat, Reinsurance Capital Availability Key: Willis Re
Credit Insurance
Governments should backstop trade credit
Litigation
The Race Is on to Lead Business Interruption Insurance Litigation
What Won’t Cure Corona: Lawsuits
6 Types Of Employment Lawsuits To Expect In The Wake Of COVID-19
Editorial: Stopping a Lawsuit Epidemic
Kudlow: Businesses shouldn’t be held liable for employees and customers getting coronavirus
Corporate America Seeks Legal Protection for When Coronavirus Lockedowns Lift
Profits & Losses
Coronavirus Costs Weigh on Travelers’ Profit
Coronavirus Will Be Largest Event in Insurance History, Says Chubb CEO
Coronavirus To Be Largest Industry Loss Ever: Chubb’s Greenberg & Lloyd’s Neal
Covid-19 P&C Insurance Industry Loss Estimated $40bn – $80bn: Dowling
Chubb Classifies Covid-19 as a Catastrophe Event
Covid-19 Claims Manageable, But Reinsurers Face Formidable Challenges: Willis Re
Specialty Lines
Companies Can Expect Higher D&O Rates, Lower Limits: Experts
Lack of Adequate Insurance Puts Healthcare Workers At Risk of Malpractice Lawsuits
Workers Compensation
States Easing Path to Workers Compensation Benefits for Coronavirus Workers
Changing Virus Guidance Creates Balancing Act For Essential Employers
Employers Pushing Back as States Expand Work Comp to Cover COVID-19
Workplace Safety For COVID-19 Essential Workers
From the Triple-I Blog:
TRIPLE-I CEO AMONG PANELISTS DISCUSSING BUSINESS INTERRUPTION INSURANCE LEGISLATION
INSURERS RESPOND TO COVID-19 (4/24/2020)
CORONAVIRUS WRAP-UP: LIFE AND HEALTH INSURANCE (4/22/2020)
CORONAVIRUS WRAP-UP: DATA AND VISUALIZATIONS (4/20/2020)

CORONAVIRUS WRAP-UP: PROPERTY AND CASUALTY (4/22/2020)

Automobile Insurance
Erie Insurance Offering $200M dividend to Auto Insurance Customers Amid Pandemic
If Miles Driven Are Down, Why Are U.S. Auto Crashes Up?
Business Interruption
Federal Lawsuits Target Insurers Over COVID-19 Business Interruption Claims
Covid-Fueled Supply Chain Disruption a Crunch Point for Insurance Claims
Businesses Contemplating Reopening Fear Lawsuits From Sick Patrons
Cannabis
20 Ways to Address Marijuana Reform Amid COVID-19
Directors & Officers
Top Exec With Coronavirus a Reportable Event? It All Depends
Financial and Business Impact
A.M. Best Forecasts Hit to Insurer Capital from Equity Exposures
Fraud
Pandemic Has Scam Artists Out in Full Force
Litigation
‘Act of God’ Disputes Are on Upswing
Travelers Hits Back With COVID-19 Claims Denial Suit
Fed-up Nurses File Lawsuits, Plan Protest at White House Over Lack of Coronavirus Protections
Travel Insurance
Impact of Covid-19 on Corporate Travel, Recovery & Way Forward
Cruise Ship Virus Losses May Hit Marine Liability Insurers
Workers Compensation
CA Virus Comp Costs Projected to Reach as High as $33.6B
Employers May Exclude Payroll to Employees Not Working for Workers’ Comp: NCCI
COVID-19 Presumptions May Lead to Billions in Workers’ Comp Losses

CORONAVIRUS WRAP-UP: PROPERTY AND CASUALTY (4/21/2020)

Automobile Insurance
Acting on ‘Thin’ Data, Auto Insurers Retain Flexibility With Premium Credits
Speeders Take Over Empty Roads — With Fatal Consequences
Business Interruption
Triple-I Economists: Enforced COVID-19 Business Interruption Payouts Would Damage Industry
Fight Over Pandemic Insurance Intensifies
Restaurants vs. Insurers Shapes Up as Main Event In D.C. Lobbying Fight
Cyber Risk
Hacking Against Corporations Surges as Workers Take Computers Home
Directors & Officers
D&O Insurance May Help Non-Public Companies With COVID-19 Claims
Financial Impact
Despite Recent Market Rally, Pandemic Will Continue to Hit Insurers’ Investments
COVID-19 to deter M&A activity in 2020: Conning
Kidnap & Ransom
Pandemic Exposes Organizations to Kidnap for Ransom Risk
Litigation
U.S. Businesses Bring Wave of Class Action Lawsuits Against Insurance Companies for Denial of Business Interruption Claims in Wake of COVID-19Pandemic
Hiscox Faces Legal Action From Chef Raymond Blanc: Reports
Ending Virus Shutdowns Too Soon Poses Legal Risk for Businesses
Reinsurance and Insurance-Linked Securities
Lack of Exclusions, Poor Wordings the COVID-19 BI Threats to Reinsurers & ILS
Workers Compensation
Utah Passes Bill to Provide First Responders With Comp for COVID
Comp Premiums Likely to Dip as Employment Declines: NCCI

From The Triple-I Blog:
MIXED REACTIONS TO WORKERS COMP COVID-19 EXPANSIONS