Because of decreased insurance claims during the coronavirus crisis, insurers doing business in Montana are giving refunds or other savings to customers of at least $20.7 million, the state auditor’s office said on May 11th.
State Auditor Matt Rosendale, whose office regulates insurance, said he’s been expediting the office’s regulatory procedures to get the money into the hands of consumers.
“More than half of Montana adults are already seeing insurance savings, or will be soon,” he said in a statement. “As so many of our friends and neighbors have been laid off, furloughed or seen their hours reduced, every bit of financial relief helps right now.”
The rebates and reductions affect nearly 500,000 insurance policies in the state, his office said. The vast majority of the money is coming from auto insurers, who’ve seen a big drop-off in accident claims because of greatly reduced travel during the state’s stay-at-home order, which began in late March.
Two dozen insurers are giving rebates or reducing premiums in Montana, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Among them: State Farm Mutual Auto Co. provided the most, at $7.7 million, GEICO Indemnity Co. reported $3.7 million on its auto policies, and Liberty Insurance Corp. $2.26 million on its auto policies in Montana.
We talked with Jo Bridgeford Maronick, an agency owner for Farmers Insurance in Great Falls, and she said this is a way for them to help the community. "Everybody is trying to help get through this difficult situation, financially it hurt so many people, so whatever we can do to help or continue to improve, that's what we will want to do as well as other insurance companies."
She continued, "When the stay home orders were placed across the country, insurance companies, as Farmers, did see a reduction in driving at activity and accidents. So we wanted to give back to our clients in premiums. So Farmers, for instance, decided to refund 25% of the April payments to our clients' business and personal lines to offset their fees. We tried to help, and many other companies did something similar. So then in May, as we saw some of the stay home orders lifted, we still saw a decrease in accidents and driving activities, so Farmers gave back 15% of the May premiums."
In addition to rebates, insurers are giving some customers credits on future payments or discounts on premiums, Rosendale’s office said.