What You Need to Know About Insurance Coverage in Ontario During COVID-19 – Part 1 Home and Auto Insurance
Updated May 29, 2020
During this trying time, you surely have all kinds of questions and concerns swirling around your head. From social distancing to homeschooling, job losses to working from home, our world has changed in seemingly an instant. With so much uncertainty and so much shifting on a daily (or hourly) basis, it’s overwhelming.
With all the different federal and provincial assistance programs rolling out, and different industries offering different relief methods, perhaps you might be wondering where your insurance stands during this pandemic and if there is some specific support you can expect.
In part 1 of this 2-part post, we’re going to look at concerns for home and auto insurance in Ontario.
Insurance relief during COVID-19
With organizations such as financial institutions and utility providers offering assistance, where do things stand in the insurance industry? If you are struggling to make your insurance payments, what will happen? How are insurance companies stepping up during these difficult times to support their customers?
The Insurance Bureau of Canada made the following statement in a media release:
“Consumers who have questions about their current insurance coverage or are concerned about their ability to continue to pay their premiums due to the impact of COVID-19 should contact their insurance representative to discuss a potential solution.”
While many were hoping for a blanket statement from the IBC, similarly to the coordinated messages we saw in banking that stated that mortgage deferrals would be offered, there is no cohesive message for the industry. It’s essentially an “it depends on your provider” kind of a situation. Different providers are providing different relief measures with different eligibility requirements and time frames.
However, the IBC did announce that its member companies would commit to exploring flexible payment options for any of their customers that are suffering from financial hardship due to COVID-19.
Ontario’s finance minister Rod Phillips stated on April 9 that he will be monitoring the situation to ensure that insurance companies are treating drivers in the province fairly (source: CTV News Toronto). He followed through on his promise, and on April 16 the Ontario government has amended a regulation in the Insurance Act, now allowing auto insurance companies to give their customers temporary insurance premium rebates.
Phillips stated: “Insurance companies indicated that the regulation preventing rebates was a barrier to providing relief to their customers. That barrier has now been removed so auto insurance companies can step up and do the right thing for the people and families of Ontario.” (source: Ontario.ca)
The Insurance Bureau of Ontario also put together a pdf listing out the relief response of different providers are the province. You can check it out here: April 23 Industry Response COVID 19 Comparison Chart
Here is another compilation of the industry response from Canadian Underwriter: What emergency relief will insurers offer customers? Here’s what they told us
What if I already missed a payment?
Normally, missing a payment would result in repercussions (check out – What Happens If I Miss a Payment on My Car Insurance?) but these are extraordinary times. If you have missed a payment or know that you are about to, contact your insurance provider or broker right away to discuss the situation and find out what their policies are for dealing with the financial hardship that has been the result of this COVID-19 pandemic. Don’t wait for the company to contact you – be proactive! And be sure that you get all the details and understand what they are offering, such as how your rates and your insurance record will be affected.
IBC did also announce that its member companies would not charge NSF fees for 90 days in the event that there were insufficient funds to cover the payment.
How about if my situation has completely changed?
Perhaps due to the pandemic, you are no longer driving or driving considerably less than you used to. Reach out to your provider or broker to see about adjustments to your coverage that might make sense. The IBC announced that its member companies are offering reductions and discounts for these types of situations.
Working from home? You may be wondering if you need to make adjustments to your home insurance policy. Again, get in touch with your provider or broker. Many companies are not requiring any changes to their policies for home owners in this situation, but it will depend on the provider. You could also check in with your employer, as you may have some coverage under their insurance plan for this situation.
- Ontario Enables Auto Insurance Companies to Provide Driver Rebates During COVID-19 – Ontario.ca
- Home and auto insurers offer economic relief during COVID-19 pandemic – The Globe and Mail (outlines relief policies of a few providers)
- Can I put off car payments and insurance premiums because of COVID-19? – The Globe and Mail
- Insurers reducing insurance costs for Canadians: IBC member companies offer substantial consumer relief measures – Insurance Bureau of Canada
- Ontario watching how insurance companies treat customers during COVID-19 pandemic – CTV News Toronto
- Canadians are driving far less during COVID-19, which means fewer accidents. So why aren’t insurance companies offering across-the-board relief? – The Star
We’re going to continue updating and adding to this post as the situation progresses. If you have any suggestions or ideas for what to include in this post, or if you have any questions related to COVID-19 and your insurance coverage, please reach out to our team. You can also reach us on Twitter and Facebook. Please remember that while our offices remain closed to in-person visits, we are still here to support you. And our online quote tool is still available 24/7 – go here for home and here for auto insurance quotes.
Wondering about where things stand for your business and insurance? Stay tuned for part 2 of this post…
Image source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net | Stuart Miles