As the COVID pandemic continues, we at Lane’s hope you and your family are safe and well. We understand that as the situation continues to change rapidly, everything can seem very uncertain. We are all looking for a little stability – especially with our finances – so we can concentrate on what matters.
Many of us are questioning what we can do over the next few weeks to help with monthly payments and make this time a little less stressful. There are COVID financial assistance options available for car owners, mortgage holders, and the insured.
What About My Insurance Payments?
We’re not driving nearly as much, something a couple U.S.-based insurance companies (Allstate and American Family) have recognized. Each has offered their own type of refund to consumers because of the simple fact that there are far fewer cars on the road, therefore far fewer accidents.
As yet in Canada, there have been no company-wide offers such as these. Early on in the pandemic, insurance brokers such as us at Lane’s imparted to Canadian Underwriter that our main concern is our clients. We recognized that families were going to face difficulties, and voiced that we would like to see an “agreed-upon baseline set of proposals coming from the biggest insurers in Canada.”
The Insurance Bureau of Canada provided the following statement in a March 19 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.”
This means that there is help available, but you have to ask for it. Canadian Underwriter asked a number of insurance companies what they will be offering their customers. Here is a sampling:
- Temporary suspensions of policy termination for non-payment.
- Not processing fees for non-sufficient funds.
- Providing flexible payment options.
- Potential for lowered premiums for those who are driving less or who are choosing to “park” their vehicle.
As insurance brokers, we are here to advocate for you. All insurance companies are working with their clients on a case-by-case basis to provide some sort of premium relief if warranted. We encourage everyone who is facing extra stress over finances to contact us as soon as possible so we can support you with your request.
Alberta’s registries are asking that people stay away from offices unless necessary. To help facilitate this, the Government of Alberta has extended the deadline for the expiration of drivers licenses, car registration, ID cards, and other permits and certificates to May 15. Those who can obtain their registration online are encouraged to do so.
Car Payment Relief
Missing a car payment is not normally advisable, as it will result in a surcharge and a potential hit to your credit rating. However, during this time banks and car companies are allowing customers to defer their payments until later. Don’t just go ahead and skip your payment, however. Make sure to contact your loan company first to ensure there will be no penalties incurred. Be clear about the specifics, as well. Will deferring for three months mean that you will be responsible for all three payments at the end of the term? Or will you be able to simply add three months to the end of the loan period? Also be sure to ask if deferring will change the interest owed in any way.
Other COVID Financial Assistance Available
Additional COVID financial assistance options include:
- Interest rate reduction on credit cards
- Minimum payment deferrals for credit cards
- Payment deferrals for mortgages and loans
- Banks are making long- and short-term loans more easily available
Remember, these are all programs and initiatives for which you must apply through your bank and/or mortgage and loan companies. They will not be automatically applied.
Federal Assistance Program
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is available to those who have stopped working because of COVID-19. The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks, and is meant for those who have not voluntarily left their job. Those who are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) should apply for the CERB, and their EI claim will be processed through the same system. See the frequently asked questions here.
Lane’s Insurance is Here For You
As we continue to adjust, Lane’s Insurance is here for you. All of our employees are working from home in order to help stop the spread of the virus, however we remain up and operational and ready to help. We are your ally in the insurance business. It’s our job to find you the best coverage at the very best rates out there. Give us a call at our Calgary, Banff, Edmonton, or greater Alberta offices to see what we can do for you.