During the COVID-19 pandemic and as lockdown measures eased, many Canadians were in a dangerous financial situation. As bills stack up and wages disappear, finding ways to help people through the crisis was important. Insurance companies in Ontario responded by offering numerous relief measures, which have now totalled $1 billion in savings for motorists.
According to the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) of Ontario, many car insurers in the province have maintained their temporary relief programs during the pandemic.
Insurers Step Up with $1 Billion in Savings
In April, the provincial government amended the Insurance Act, allowing car insurers to offer rebates to their customers. However, the regulator did not say which specific measures providers could offer, instead preferring each company to create relief options.
Many insurers quickly rolled out aid measures in the form of payment deferrals, removal of non-sufficient payment fees, direct discounts and rebates.
In May, FSRA announced over $685 million in savings to drivers, totalling $150 per customer. By early October, the measures had demonstrated a measure of success, bringing $1 billion in savings to motorists in Ontario, up over $300 million (45 percent) from the last report.
“Our government took immediate action to make the required regulatory changes so that consumers could benefit from the change in driving behaviour during the pandemic,” said Ontario Finance Minister Rod Phillips. “We made it very clear to insurers that drivers deserved more, which resulted in auto insurers making available almost $1 billion in relief for Ontario drivers. I have asked FSRA to continue monitoring how insurance companies are providing relief to ensure consumers’ needs are being met as the pandemic continues to evolve.”
How Relief Measures Are Assisting Consumers
There wasn’t much good news for Ontarians on the financial front in 2020, but their auto insurance situation stabilized during the crisis. Instead of premiums rising, many drivers saw insurance costs decline thanks to the relief measures put in place by providers.
In its report, FSRA says the $1 billion in consumer relief equals 7.1% of all annual auto insurance premiums in Ontario. There are 6.6 million drivers in the province, and over 90% of them have received some form of rate relief.
During the summer, critics suggested insurers could still do more to help consumers save money. Since then, relief measures have continued to be extended to motorists, and are likely to remain throughout 2020.
While savings were made through direct help from insurers, customers were also able to leverage their circumstances for additional discounts. Through the COVID-19 lockdown, most people were using their vehicles less as stay-at-home measures became mandatory for nonessential workers. Furthermore, collisions fell during the pandemic as fewer vehicles were on the road, resulting in less risk.
For drivers who saw their driving habits and vehicle use change dramatically during the lockdown, insurance discounts were often available. Drivers could take advantage of options such as changing the details of their policies, or in some cases, adapt their coverage to a usage-based model.
Understand Your Car Insurance Options
COVID-19 brought unique challenges many Canadians have never faced. For people nationwide, their finances changed within weeks, with many left out of work or on reduced wages. While saving on insurance does not solve these problems, no doubt every little bit helps.
With savings for most drivers in Ontario available, insurance companies have helped customers through the crisis. It’s not over yet, and discounts may still be available. That’s why it remains essential for new customers to shop for the best policies at the most affordable prices. Alternatively, existing customers should talk to their insurers about what relief measures are available to them.
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