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Can I get a car insurance premium break during the coronavirus outbreak?

You might be able to temporarily postpone, extend your due date or lower your premium.

Updated

If you have car insurance but are struggling to keep up with payments, many providers are stepping up and offering financial help. You can usually cancel your insurance if you've taken it out in the last 30 days. Otherwise, you might be able to put your premiums on hold, extend your payment due date or even lower how much you pay.

Can I get a partial refund on my car insurance?

Maybe. Lots of car insurance companies in America have started offering drivers partial refunds because they can't use their cars during lockdown. The same industry-wide approach hasn't happened in Australia - yet - but there has been some positive signs.

Youi, for example, is reducing car insurance premiums by 15% for anyone who is using their car less than they usually do. The reduction is available to both new and existing customers.

"Given the decline in driving at the moment premiums can be lower, so we feel the right thing to do is to give back to our customers during this incredibly tough time," said Youi CEO Hugo Schreuder.

Will my car insurer let me skip payments?

It depends on your car insurer and your financial situation. If you miss a monthly instalment, some providers will allow you to make a one-off payment via your online account without putting a hold on your cover. Others will refuse any claim if an ongoing instalment is unpaid for 14 days or more after the due date. Some do not provide any assistance.

Here's how some insurers are providing financial help. Contact details are also provided so you can get in touch with them. Many are offering financial assistance on a case-by-case basis.

InsurerHow it is helpingContact info
AAMIOffering 20% discounts on premiums, or a 3 month waiverChat online at www.aami.com.au/contact

Call 13 22 44 or

+61 3 8520 1300

ApiaOffering 20% discounts on premiums, or a 3 month waiverCall 13 50 50
Budget DirectCustomers that are currently experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 can call to discuss assistance options.Log in to your online account

Call 1300 306 560

(+61 7 3465 1755 if you're overseas)

BMWA short-term moratorium or deferral of repayment.(+61) 3 9264 4118

hardship@bmwfinance.com.au

CGUOn a case-by-case basis.Call 132 481 for immediate assistance
Commonwealth BankWill discuss available options if you're unable to meet your repayment obligations.Call 13 30 95 for financial assistance help
GIOOffering 20% discounts on premiums, or a 3 month waiverCall 13 10 10

Chat online at www.gio.com.au/contact-us

HSBCOn a case-by-case basis e.g. working with you to develop a repayment plan or provide you with a short- or long-term break from your repayments.1300 555 988

customerassist@hsbc.com.au

INGTemporarily postponing or reducing your repayments.1300 349 166, Monday to Friday 8:45am to 5pm
LatitudeYou can still apply for hardship assistance, while you make an insurance claim.1800 220 718

Hardship application

NABIf you're eligible, a repayment holiday lets you take off a few months' worth of repayments on your home loan or personal loan.1800 701 599 from 8am–8pm Mon–Fri, or 9am–1pm on Saturdays

Financial assistance application form, mail to

GPO Box 4963WW

Melbourne

VIC, 3001

NRMAYou can request a payment extension.Log in to your account and choose request payment extension
ProgressiveA 10- and 20-day grace period, before your policy is cancelled, depending on the state you live in.Log in to your policy or call 866-749-7436
ShannonsIf you are in urgent financial need as a result of a loss covered by your policy then Shannons will speed up your claim. It may also consider an advance payment.1800 367 287

info@fos.org.au

SuncorpOffering 20% discounts on premiums, or a 3 month waiverCall 13 11 55

Email direct@suncorp.com.au

YouiUsing your car less? 15% Temporary Relief on Your Premium for 3 Months.Login via youi.com.au or call 1300 219 948

Can I delay my car insurance payment?

Yes, but it depends on the insurer. To find out if you can delay your car insurance premium, you can:

  • Contact your insurer. Since many insurers will consider your situation on an individual or case-by-case basis, you should contact your insurer directly if you are suffering from financial hardship. Keep in mind that it will be busier than usual due to the coronavirus crisis so for urgent enquiries, call directly.
  • Provide evidence of your situation. It's a good idea to have any relevant information related to your financial situation. It might be a group certificate showing you are out of work or other details proving you can't keep up with payments.
  • Try and get an option that suits you. Speak to your insurer about a payment option that works for you. For example, if you expect to be out of work for only a short time, an extension could be enough to get you by.
  • Note any important info. Whether you've secured an extension, lowered your premiums or temporarily frozen your account, be sure to jot down any new info so you can keep up with the new payments and don't forget about them.

What about if your insurer doesn't help?

You're not out of options if your insurer doesn't provide any form of financial relief. There are a few other things you can do:

  • Shop around. If you've lost your job due to coronavirus, it's a good time to sort out your finances. You might be able to find a cheaper car insurance policy than the one you're currently paying. You can compare policies side by side on Finder to help you find a deal with better value.
  • Opt for pay-as-you-go car insurance. Pay-as-you-go insurance gives you all the perks of comprehensive car insurance but without the prices. This is because it's basically only offered to you if you don't drive often and have a good driving history. Most of the time, you'll need to use an app or black box to track your driving.
  • Downgrade your coverage. Downgrading your policy might be an option if you don't expect to be using your car as frequently. In Australia, all states are required to have CTP insurance, which is the least comprehensive and therefore cheapest type of insurance you can get.
  • Cancel your policy. If you can't afford to pay your current policy and are not receiving any financial hardship assistance, you might want to just cancel your policy. Keep in mind that many insurers will have a cancellation fee if you cancel in the middle of a contract. However there may also be cancellation refunds for unused portions of your premium.

What happens if I can't pay my car insurance premiums?

If you don't think you'll be able to pay your car insurance, it's best to keep your insurer in the loop. Contact it as soon as possible and let it know; you might be able to come to an agreement before your policy is simply terminated.

It's also worth noting that your policy should not be cancelled immediately because you miss a payment. Insurance companies are required by state law to provide notice before cancelling your policy completely. Depending on the state you have your car insured in, you'll usually have between 10 and 20 days to pay. This means you'll still be covered during this time if you do miss a payment. Your insurer will usually text, email or call you to let you know. If you don't pay within the specified timeframe, it can cancel your policy and deny you coverage.

Picture: Getty Images

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