Car insurance companies sending refund checks to drivers and crediting bills, but is it enough?

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's money back in your pocket, but is it enough?

The majority of car insurance companies are refunding customers or discounting driver's bills due to COVID-19 stay at home orders.

Many ABC11 viewers got their refund checks this week from their insurance companies and are beginning to see discounts on their bills, but many say they are disappointed in the amount of money they are seeing back in their pockets.

Driver Norma Gould says she hardly uses her car at all during the COVID pandemic.

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While she got a credit to her bill, she'd rather see a refund check.

"Receiving credit won't put food on the table, pay the light bill, or allow you to get much-needed medicine," she said. "There needs to be an open discussion as to how those companies can better help all affected policyholders."

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Some insurance companies like Nationwide sent customers a refund check. Many drivers covered by Nationwide reported getting $50 refund checks this week. Nationwide said the refund is equivalent to an average savings of 15 percent for two months and is on top of existing discounts customers already earn.

Wilson resident Ben Gufford will be getting a credit on his next billing cycle.

"It's better than nothing," he said.

Gufford's insurance company is Geico, which is giving policyholders a 15 percent credit on their next 6-month or 12-month policy term. While Ben's grateful for the $38 credit he'll get, he'd like to see it be more.

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"We were at a stay at home order the entire month of April and a part of March, so I wouldn't have minded having that premium refunded to me," Gufford said.

His monthly premium amounts to about $50 a month so he would have gotten more money back. As Geico has their credit policy set up now, Gufford will have to wait until July to get his $38 credit.

A new study just released by two consumer groups, The Center for Economic Justice (CEJ) and the Consumer Federation of America, shows there needs to be more relief from consumers due to the decline in miles driven and crashes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"People aren't driving anymore; the risk has gone way down," Bob Hunter, the Director of Insurance for the Federation of America, said. "So it's a double savings for the insurance companies. It would be a COVID-19 windfall for them if they didn't give back the money."

According to the data collected by the consumer groups in North Carolina over the last month and a half, there's been a reduction in miles driven by at least 50 percent.

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"We concluded that a fair payback for March, April and May would be at 30 percent and most companies are around 15 percent. Some are even less. A few are at 30 percent. State Farm is close at 25 percent," Hunter said.

At this point, car insurance companies haven't announced if they will offer new relief efforts. When it comes to the refunds and credits that were already announced, you don't need to take any action; you will get those automatically.
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