CA commissioner orders insurers to refund premiums to drivers amid coronavirus pandemic

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Monday, April 13, 2020
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Relief is coming for auto insurance customers in California as people are driving far less during the coronavirus emergency.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Relief is coming for auto insurance customers in California as people are driving far less during the coronavirus emergency.

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara is ordering all insurance companies, effective Monday to "provide a premium credit, reduction, return of premium, or other appropriate premium adjustment as soon as possible, and no later than August 2020."

The order covers premiums paid for at least March and April. It will extend through May if shelter-in-place restrictions continue.

RELATED: Are auto insurance companies benefitting from roads emptied by the coronavirus?

"The COVID-19 pandemic has severely curtailed activities of policyholders in both personal and commercial lines. As a result, projected loss exposures of many insurance policies have become overstated or misclassified. This is especially true for policies where premiums are based partly on measures of risk such as number of miles driven, revenue, and payrolls which have all dropped significantly because of COVID-19," Lara wrote in a bulletin to property and casualty insurers as well as workers compensation insurers.

Read Lara's full bulletin here.

Some insurers like Allstate, State Farm and American Family have already voluntarily offered to return premiums to their customers.

Additionally, Allstate said it is also offering anyone in the United States, whether or not they are an Allstate customer, free identity protection for the rest of the year "since our lives have become more digital."

The notoriously heavy traffic in Los Angeles has been nearly non-existent since the "safer-at-home" order went into effect.

ABC7 Eyewitness News in Los Angeles spoke with California Highway Patrol Officer Robert Gomez via Skype about the fortuitous development.

"The good news is there's less traffic, but what that comes more speeders, erratic drivers," Gomez said.

The amount of calls to the CHP have dropped compared to the number of fender-benders that occurred during normal gridlock before the coronavirus outbreak.

But now the agency is receiving calls and witnessing more rollover incidents, single-car collisions and more ambulances responding due to the higher volume of speeders on the empty roads, which in turn results in more dangerous results.

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