The global coronavirus pandemic has completely transformed the world. Never before in modern times has there been so many national leaders unsure about how to manage a health crisis, and never before have so many economies been paralyzed like this.
These are unfamiliar times, and nobody really knows what to do. Fortunately, many people and many organizations are working together to do as much as they can. We are seeing heartwarming displays of community assistance, and almost everyone is trying to be as understanding as possible.
The insurance industry is one sector that may not always have the greatest reputation. People see companies deny claims at times and think that these firms just don’t care. That perception isn’t necessarily fair in most cases, and we are seeing that even large financial services companies have a heart.
Specifically, various companies are offering their customer’s relief in the “new normal” in the following four ways:
1. Extending Grace Periods
Many insurers have been offering grace periods for premium payments since the middle of March. The exact duration of these gestures depends upon the company, location, and type of policy.
But according to Forbes, many providers have been allowing customers to pay a week late for auto insurance coverage plans and up to a month late for life insurance policies.
2. Waiving Late Fees
A similar, although slightly different, the move has come in the form of insurance providers waiving late fees. In practice, this is largely the same as extending payment deadlines. But the terminology and logistics are a little bit different.
And some companies have offered to waive all types of potential penalties as well as the fees themselves, which could present other benefits for customers who miss their deadline and are afraid that this would cause their premiums to rise.
3. Suspending Cancellations
Even in cases where payment deadlines remain firm and late fees were maintained, some companies were quick to reassure clients that their policies would not be canceled for nonpayment.
This means that, yes, you may get dinged for not being on time. And you still may have to pay a bit more due to the fee. But even if you couldn’t pay even a dollar for a few months, you wouldn’t be at risk of actually losing your auto insurance and then having to either drive illegally or find other transportation options.
4. Offering Automatic Relief
Though a wide range of companies offered relief assistance of one type or another, some have made it easier than others. For example, financial services company USAA, which provides insurance, banking and investment services for millions of military members, opted to waive all late fees and halt cancellations automatically.
This stands in contrast to some others that have suggested that customers who require assistance call to discuss payment options. In general, almost all companies have at least encouraged customers suffering hardships to contact their hotline to discuss individual arrangements.
Insurers Lending a Helping Hand
The global economy is in tatters. Few are seeing this day in and day out as closely as large financial services firms. So it is good to see that even insurers have recognized that people — including the millions who have been laid off — are hurting.
Many providers have responded by extending payment grace periods, waiving late fees, pledging to not cancel any policies for failure to pay, and offering various benefits through automatic relief enrollment.
Clearly, the recovery will belong. We are unlikely to see vast improvement this year, and many more people will continue to fall on tough times. But in a crisis like this, every bit helps, and insurers have tried to do their part to help out customers.