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Options for those struggling to pay auto insurance bill during pandemic

Struggling to pay your auto insurance bills? In light of the coronavirus, major insurance companies are waiving late fees and suspending coverage cancellations. Allstate is offering to forgive 15% of customers’ auto premiums for April and May.

We spoke to someone dealing with trouble paying auto insurance bills and heard from an expert who shared advice for anyone dealing with similar issues.

Like many people these days, Michael Whidden is out of work.

“With nothing coming in and everything going out, I’m pretty much depleted at this point,” Whidden said.

And, when he couldn’t pay his auto insurance bill at the end of March, he asked the company for help.

“I basically just called to see if I could get an extension and was told that they can’t do that,” Whidden said. “There was no mandate by the state.”

Whidden has five days before his insurance is canceled. And, in Florida, a lapse in coverage means his license could be suspended for up to three years.

“Having to drive around illegally, I can’t even look for a job as far as it goes without taking that chance,” Whidden said.

Mark Friedlander from the Insurance Information Institute says this isn’t the norm.

“The insurance industry as a whole has been showing compassion for the plight that millions of Americans are facing right now,” Friedlander said.

And Friedlander says the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation even gave out guidelines to companies, telling them to offer customers some relief.

Companies such as Geico, Allstate, Farmers and Progressive suspended policy cancellations for people who are having a hard time paying.

“Offering them extensions, not canceling policies, putting a moratorium on non-renewals at least for the short term,” Friedlander said.

Friedlander’s advice for Whidden and anyone not seeing the same results is talk to your agent and shop around.

We’re told some companies are even extending personal insurance policies to cover people now using their own vehicles for restaurant delivery services.

“See what options you have,” Friedlander said. “See if they can maybe shop your coverage, multiple quotes. Find out what other carriers are doing”

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Reporter:Sara Girard
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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