COVID and Car Insurance: What’s the Same and What Has Changed?
It’s hard to believe that in the United States, we’ve been under some level of stay-at-home measure or quarantine due to COVID-19 for about two months already. The news seems to change from day to day (sometimes even from hour to hour), and time seems to have congealed into some amorphous blob that is somehow creeping along yet flying by.
As everyone tries to figure out how life should proceed from day to day, so much feels up in the air. How long will we have to wear masks outside? Will rent prices go down as so many of us are seeing lesser incomes? Here at Elephant, a question we’ve been asked often in the last few weeks is “How has this affected the way Elephant is doing business, and is COVID having an impact on my rate and policy?” We want to take a few minutes to answer your questions as best as we can, whether you’re a member of our Herd or you have insurance with another provider.
Level with me–should I lower my coverage to save money right now? Do I even need car insurance, or should I just cancel until things are back to normal?
In our society, car insurance (and insurance in general) has become a necessary financial safeguard. If you’re ever in accident, whether it was your fault or not, car insurance provides the reassurance and guarantee that you will be able to afford assistance, repairs, and even medical bills. It also protects instances of damage to your car by natural disaster or unforeseeable accidents, like a tree falling on your car. And unfortunately, while certain aspects of our lives may be on hold because of COVID right now, accidents and potential disasters are still as much of a possibility as ever.
Even if you’re driving less frequently these days, it’s so important to stay as financially protected on the road as possible, or even just in your driveway. You may be tempted to switch to a lower coverage level to save money on your monthly payments, but we strongly recommend you stick with a mid-to-high coverage level policy. Minimum coverage may seem like a good option in the short term, but you’ll be on the hook for so much more if you’re ever in an accident or incur damages to your car. With so much uncertainty in life right now, including finances, the last thing you need is the risk of huge payments and debts in an unfortunate situation.
As a quick refresher, here are some insurance fundamentals of a full coverage policy and why they’re important:
This is exactly what it sounds like. If you collide with anything from another car to a tree, to a fire hydrant, this coverage will help pay for damages to your car as a result.
This part of your insurance will cover damages to your car not caused by collision (i.e. hitting a non-animated object with your car). This includes: fire, theft and vandalism, storm damage, contact with animals (including birds), falling objects, and glass breakage.
Sometimes you can be as prepared as possible, but that doesn’t mean the other driver is. This covers medical and/or repair costs in an accident caused by a driver with no insurance or not enough insurance.
Bodily Injury Liability
Let’s say you cause an accident and the other people involved need medical attention as a result. This coverage helps pay for the cost of their medical bills.
PIP, or Personal Injury Protection, will cover medicals bills resulting from bodily injury that you or your passengers sustain in the event of an accident, regardless of who is at fault.
(We also have a whole page dedicated to car insurance coverage for a more in-depth review on each of these and some real life examples!)
I’m not so sure—I may still want to adjust or lower my coverage. Are insurance companies offering any kind of financial relief right now?
While we don’t recommend reducing your coverage, if you truly will not be driving your car at all (Like, not ever. Not even a loop around the block. For this to be okay, your car should effectively be in storage.) you can opt for just having comprehensive coverage. But we’ll emphasize again—we don’t recommend this outside of this situation. If you’re in any kind of accident, you won’t be covered and will be on the hook for some serious money, so make sure you think about if you could afford to pay out of pocket to fix (or replace) your car.
That being said, at Elephant specifically, we believe that if you’re driving less, you should pay less. That’s why we’ve recently lowered our rates to help our customers save during this time. Customers who have experienced struggles with unemployment also have further options for assistance with their payments. To see more ways you can save, or what coverages suit you best, give our new Coverage Wizard a try.
For non-Elephant customers, we highly recommend calling your provider to see what offers they may have to help you save during these times. Many companies are offering money back, temporarily reduced premiums, and pauses on non-payment policy cancellations.
Perfect. Can I still contact my provider the same ways as normal?
For the most part yes, you can. Many providers, including Elephant, offer 24/7 online access to your policy and account information, which makes it possible to adjust certain aspects of your coverage on your own. You can also often chat an agent online (as with Elephant), or call in to speak to an agent in person. Elephant does have certain business hours for standard services, but specialists are available to help you with claims 24/7.
Certain people may be experiencing longer wait times to speak to agents of their providers, or may be taking virtual meetings with their claims adjusters. But with companies like Elephant, who have been able to shift 98% of our staff to working from home, your interaction with your provider should be the same as always.
Got any questions about how the COVID pandemic may affect your insurance that we didn’t cover? We’re happy to answer any questions you may have over chat or the phone. We’re still here for you, just as always. And from all of us at Elephant, we hope that you’re staying safe, staying calm, and staying together.