By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer
Several longtime Yukon insurance agents are touting the benefits of a program that’s literally providing relief to people during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
With people driving fewer miles and less accident claims to process, the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID) has received requests from several property/casualty insurers to return a percentage of paid premiums to their policyholders.
Shelter Insurance is providing a 30% relief payment of clients’ April and May auto premiums, according to Yukon insurance agent Lolly Griffin.
“It’s either being directly deposited into their accounts if they’re on a bank draft plan or they’re receiving a check,” said Griffin, who has shared a Yukon office for 41 years with agent Roger Karns.
“We’re pretty proud of the 30% refund back to our clients. They apparently are too. … People need the help. Hopefully this will help people get along through this unique time.”
Their Yukon Shelter agency also has donated $1,000 to a local charity, Compassionate Hands; and has announced their annual Yukon High School and Southwest Covenant School college scholarship recipients.
“Shelter is a real customer-oriented company anyway because we’re a small regional company,” Griffin said. “Shelter just wants to do the right thing – all the time, not just at this time. Roger and I are proud to work for this company; we’re just supportive of our people.”
Progressive Insurance is returning 20% of auto insurance premiums to policy holders for the months of April and May, according to Yukon insurance agent Scott Wiedemann.
“It’s great to see that companies like Progressive are trying to pass some savings back to all of us individually,” said Wiedemann, who has been an insurance agent for 40 years. “People are pleased about this, although many don’t even know it’s happening because the premium credit is an automatic process.”
Many insurance companies – including Hanover, Safeco, Travelers, American Farmers and Ranchers, and others – have stepped forward to provide much-needed relief to their policyholders, he added.
Most major auto insurers recognize that their customers are driving less during the COVID-19 crisis. This is due primarily to “stay-at-home” orders that have reduced the number of motorists on the road, Wiedemann noted.
The pandemic has impacted every type of business and service around the globe, including the insurance industry.
Many insurance companies who operate in Oklahoma have announced refunds, dividends, credits or other appropriate premium adjustments to their customers.
Most cited reduced policyholder mileage and the receipt of fewer claims amid the COVID-19 crisis as their reason for these offers.
Another longtime Yukon insurance agent, Cherie Logan, likewise sees the benefits to her policyholders of State Farm Insurance’s premium relief program.
State Farm’s “Good Neighbor” relief program provides a 25% auto insurance credit between March 20 and May 31. State Farm is the country’s large auto insurer.
“People seem to really appreciate it and are excited about the 25% premium refund,” said Logan, who’s been an insurance agent 35 years. “I am very proud to be associated with a company that cares about its customers!”
For customers facing financial hardships, the State Farm office has extended the payment deadline until May 31.
Mike Vincent of Wesco Insurance said his agency, which he owns with David McKinney and Gary Shelton, is promoting premium discounts for auto insurance customers.
“We have 13 companies and seven have currently offered discounts for relief to the policyholders,” said Vincent, an insurance agent for 18 years. “Three companies are giving 15% for two months, one is giving 20%, one is giving 25%, and one is giving 35%. And one is giving a 10% discount for the entire year!
“We’re glad the companies are recognizing their risk for claims are less since most people aren’t getting out much and are willing to give some back to our clients.”
Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready thanked the insurance industry for doing the right thing during these challenging times.
“These companies are taking the lead in helping ease some of the financial burdens many are experiencing during this crisis,” Mulready said.
“I want to express my appreciation and gratitude for their leadership, community service and assistance during this difficult and unusual time.”
The state insurance department is working diligently with insurers to approve these relief program requests and get money into consumers’ hands as quickly as possible.
Learn more about insurance companies offering premium relief and assistance programs to Oklahoma consumers at https://www.oid.ok.gov/covid19_relief/