Insurers ‘keeping £1bn of lockdown savings from drivers’
Car insurers have been accused of not doing enough to pass lockdown-related saving on to their customers.
The current restrictions on travel, which stop driving for all but essential tasks, have seen a huge drop in vehicle use and traffic levels - official estimates are that traffic is 60 to 80 per cent lower than normal.
As a result, insurers are expected to make far fewer payouts for claims, saving them an expected £1 billion, but they have been accused of failing to pass these savings on to customers.
Some insurers have said they are making it easier and cheaper for drivers to reduce their expected annual mileage - which can help lower premiums - but Admiral is the only one so far to offer across-the-board refunds for all of its customers.
The insurer has said it will return £25 for each vehicle a customer has insured with it, with payouts reaching customers' bank accounts by the end of May.
However, rival insurer By Miles says the move doesn’t reflect the real costs for many drivers and has called on more insurers to go even further.
The firm, which specialises in pay-per-mile insurance, wants other brands to end what it says are “unfair” policies and copy its model for premiums.
CEO James Blackham said: If you’re driving less, you should pay less. No one on the roads means reduced risk and far fewer payouts. So, while we applaud Admiral for being the first to issue partial refunds to all customers, we’d like to see all insurers pass on some of the £1bn in profits we forecast they’ll make during the lockdown.
“The next wave of insurers to offer refunds must go further and refund based on an individual's overall premiums. We’re already seeing customers complaining that Admiral’s blanket £25 isn’t a fair reflection of their costs – unsurprising as over a two-month lockdown, drivers could be between £35 to £58 out of pocket, for each car they own, with this overpayment rocketing up to over £140 for younger drivers.
“This crisis has shown UK drivers that the way car insurance works is unfair. We urge insurers to be proactive, pass on savings before they’re forced to, and consider modifying policies to reflect the new normal. Drivers will remember how car insurers behaved during the pandemic. It’s time to treat customers fairly. "
Average car insurance costs rose rapidly last year, with Confused.com estimated they climbed by £47 to £809 - the sharpest increase in two years.