Ontario’s regulator the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) will ask Ontario drivers in a new survey how much auto insurance relief they were offered to the end of June by their insurers. The online survey will launch in July, and its results will be made public following the regulator’s analysis of the data.
FSRA issued an earlier survey that found Ontario auto insurance consumers received $685 million in total premium relief in the form of premium deferrals, rebates, refunds, and rate reductions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic lockdown. Those measures were made possible following regulatory changes FSRA made in April to allow insurers to offer rebates to their customers for up to 12 months.
That $685 million represents consumer relief equal to 4.9% of annual premiums benefiting 70% of Ontario auto insurance customers, FSRA said. However, there are different levels of relief being provided by insurers, the regulator noted. A graph showing relief provided by Ontario’s 14 major insurers represents over 95% of the Ontario market.
Where We Work and How We Commute Is Changing
As the economy begins to reopen, FSRA said it is encouraging insurers to continue to offer customers all available forms of relief that give credit for less driving and lower loss claim costs.
“At the onset of the COVID-19 emergency … FSRA strongly encouraged insurers to provide customers relief that reflected the change in driving patterns and reduced costs and which would help offset financial hardship their customers were facing due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Tim Bzowey, Executive Vice President, Auto and Insurance Products, FSRA in a press release.
“FSRA also released guidance that is aimed at ensuring there are no regulatory barriers to consumers being treated fairly, and which outlined that insurers have a number of options for providing customers with financial relief during this temporary declared emergency period.”
Meanwhile, a new Rates.ca survey reveals a shift in Canadians’ attitudes on where they will work and how they will commute as the economy reopens gradually. According to that survey’s data, 28% say they will continue to work from home after government restrictions to contain the virus ease – a dramatic increase from 9% before the pandemic. In terms of commuting, 53% say they are planning to drive to work once they are allowed to return to the office. That’s a notable drop from the 61% who drove to work before COVID-19 hit. Also, only 7% say they will return to taking public transit – a sharp decline from 17% who did beforehand.
How Is Auto Insurance Pandemic Relief Measuring Up?
In a separate national online survey, only 25% of Canadian drivers say they were offered rate relief from their auto insurer compared to 64% who say they were not. Another 12% of respondents say they are not sure. Furthermore, of drivers who received some form of relief, 33% regard the measures as helpful, but 64% consider them insignificant.
FSRA’s forthcoming July survey on rate relief efforts will mark the third time it has solicited the public’s insights on car insurance this year. In March, the regulator asked Ontario consumers to share their insights on the province’s “take-all-comers” rule.
FSRA also said it is continuing to assess the appropriateness of the relief insurers are providing and advises consumers who have questions about their insurer’s approach to relief to contact their broker, agent, or insurance company.
Canadian drivers who are uncertain about what auto insurance relief measures may be available to them can also find out by accessing the free-to-use Rates.ca COVID-19 Premium Insurance Relief Calculator.