Why Allstate and other auto insurers are sending their customers refunds

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It’s not just airlines and cruise companies that are seeing travel dry up amid the coronavirus pandemic. Homebound Americans are driving much less, too.

Auto insurer Allstate Corp. on Monday said it would refund more than $600 million in insurance premiums, or up to 15% of what its customers pay in April and May. The company is covering fewer accidents as Americans stay home, and says it has tracked a 35% to 50% drop in driving mileage since states started issuing shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders last month.

“You can just see it by state—boom, it dropped in mid-March,” Allstate CEO Tom Wilson told reporters on a conference call Monday morning. “It’s basically down everywhere across the country.”

He cited data from Allstate’s mobility-analytics subsidiary, Arity, which tracks 23 million vehicles. Not all of those are Allstate-insured cars or trucks; the company said its refunds would apply to 18 million customer policies.

“We’ve assumed that this will continue for a while,” Wilson said.

Separately on Monday, Midwestern auto insurer American Family Insurance said it would refund approximately $200 million in premiums, via one-time payments of $50 per vehicle it insures.

Chief operating officer Telisa Yancy also cited a drop-off in the miles its customers are racking up—and the resulting accidents they’re getting into: Customers “are driving less and experiencing fewer claims,” she said in a press release. “Because of these results, they deserve premium relief.”

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