Thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Americans continue to work from home and, as a result, they are driving much less on a weekly basis. According to Stanford News, roughly 40% of office employees transitioned to working from home fulltime by the summer, and many have not returned to the office since the onset of the pandemic. If you're part of this group, have changed jobs, or left the workforce entirely, you may be able to save on your car insurance thanks to the reduction in miles driven. Without the daily commute to and from work, your chance of being involved in an accident decreases significantly, and some insurance companies are recognizing this fact.
Car Insurance Companies Offer COVID-19 Refunds
As Americans switched to remote work and reduced their time behind the wheel, most major insurance companies offered a one-time discount or credit to customers. For example, Allstate insurance kicked off the trend by offering a “Stay at Home” payment of 15% of their monthly premium from April through May. Soon, other auto insurance companies followed suit and began refunding customers. State Farm gave policyholders an estimated 25% premium credit between March 20th and May 31st, while Progressive and USAA offered a 20% premium credit for April and May.
Although many refunds were sent to policyholders automatically over the summer, some offers are still ongoing. As part of its COVID-19 relief effort, Geico created a Giveback program with a 15% policy credit to new and existing auto, motorcycle, and RV policyholders on 6-month and 12-month policies through October 7, 2020. On average, Geico's credit amounts to $150.
Ways to Reduce your Car Insurance Rates
Even if you already received one of the COVID-19 refunds from your auto insurance company, there may be other ways you can save now that you're driving less. If the number of miles you're putting on your car has dropped dramatically and you don't see that changing in the near future, you can look into switching your insurance for 'pleasure use' instead of work.
According to autoinsurance.org, drivers with longer commutes pay an average of $7.09 more per month for auto insurance than those who drive less. This is because your premium is partially determined by the number of miles driven daily. Commuting to work each day puts more wear and tear on a vehicle and involves a greater risk of accidents than using the car occasionally for pleasure. Most auto insurance providers classify a vehicle under 'pleasure use' if it's driven less than 7,500-miles per year.
Another option if you're driving infrequently is to cut optional coverage from your policy or increase your deductible in exchange for a lower premium. According to The Balance, optional coverage includes some collision and comprehensive coverage, upgrades like diminishing deductibles or cashback, and roadside coverage or rental reimbursement coverage. By cutting back on the extra coverage above what is required by law, you can save on your total payment.
Finally, increasing your deductible can offer significant savings on collision and comprehensive coverage. The Balance reports that increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 can save you between 15% and 30% on collision and comprehensive coverage while increasing your deductible up to $1,000 can save you over 40%.
How to Approach your Auto Insurance Company
The best way to find potential auto insurance savings is to simply ask. Contact your auto insurance provider and explain that you're working from home. Let them know that without the daily commute, your weekly mileage has decreased significantly. Use specific examples (the 20 miles you used to drive to and from work every day, compared to the occasional weekend use your car gets today.) You can then ask if you can be switched to a 'pleasure only' policy to reduce your policy costs. You should also ask about reducing the optional coverage on your policy or increasing the deductible.
Although you can contact your insurance provider by email or chat support, your best bet is to speak to an agent over the phone. The Balance suggests starting off your conversations with: "Hello, I am calling about my car insurance premium. I have been researching insurance prices, and I am looking for ways to reduce my costs. Can we go over my policy coverages and discounts to make sure I am getting the best price?”
If you've entertained canceling your auto insurance coverage completely, you should reconsider if you still plan to get behind the wheel, no matter how infrequently. If you're caught driving without insurance, the penalty you'll pay will far outweigh the potential savings. Plus, if there is a lapse in coverage and then you reinstitute your car insurance, it will usually come at 10-15% higher rates.