Corporations, public utilities, and companies across America are stepping up to help consumers who are struggling to make ends meet during the coronavirus health crisis.
Last week, as part of a Keep Americans Connected Pledge, the FCC granted temporary authority to a number of wireless companies to use additional spectrum in order to ensure that they are able to meet their customers’ needs. It granted Special Temporary Authority to allow 33 wireless Internet service providers in rural communities as well as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon, and others to use additional spectrum to help meet increased customer demand for broadband during the coronavirus pandemic.
The pledge is a commitment from internet and cellular provider to:
-Not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
-Waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and
-Open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.
Reuters is now reporting that at least one major automobile insurance provider is doing their part to help alleviate the financial burden Americans are feeling over the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. insurer Allstate Corp said on Monday that it would return more than $600 million in auto insurance premiums to customers as many Americans stay home and drive less due to “shelter-in-place” orders to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
Most customers will receive a “payback” of 15% of their monthly premium in April and May, the company said.
A smaller U.S. auto insurer, American Family Insurance in Madison, Wisconsin, also said on Monday that it would return a total of $200 million to auto insurance customers beginning in mid-April. Customers will receive $50 per vehicle covered by their policies, the company said.
“There are very few silver linings out there, but auto insurance companies are definitely one of them,” said Piper Sandler analyst Paul Newsome about coronavirus.
Fewer accidents generally lead to a lower claim frequency and Newsome expects insurance companies with large auto portfolios, such as Progressive Corp (PGR.N), Travelers Companies Inc (TRV.N) and Allstate, to post good first-quarter results.
The payments show how coronavirus could provide a silver lining for at least one industry – auto insurance companies – as more drivers stay off the roads.
Please go to Allstate’s website to receive more information: https://www.allstate.com/
Here’s a list of special considerations being offered by auto manufacturers, internet providers, cellular phone service providers, utilities, and car rental services:
Comcast: The cable giant is offering free access to its Xfinity WiFi hot spots for everyone, including non-subscribers, for the 60 days. It’s also providing unlimited data to its customers for no extra charge and is not disconnecting internet service or charging late fees for customers who say they can’t pay their bills. The company is also providing 60 days of free basic internet service to new customers.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co.: PG&E has halted service disconnections for non-payment for both residential and commercial customers until further notice. The utility will also offer flexible payment plans “to customers who indicate either an impact or hardship as a result of COVID-19.”
Southern California Edison: The utility is suspending disconnections for nonpayment and waiving late fees “for residential and business customers impacted by the COVID-19 emergency.”
Consolidated Edison: The utility has suspended service shutoffs for customers having payment troubles.
Georgia Power: The utility is suspending residential shutoffs for 30 days, after which it will reevaluate its policy.
AT&T: The cable, phone, and media giant is suspending the termination of wireless, home phone or broadband service when customers can’t pay their bills because of coronavirus disruptions. The company is also waiving related late fees. Like Comcast, AT&T is also providing free access to its public WiFi hot spots. The company also said its consumer home internet wireline customers and fixed wireless internet customers would receive unlimited data.
Verizon: Verizon said it is waiving late fees and suspending service termination for customers “negatively impacted by the global crisis.”
T-Mobile: The mobile phone service provider is providing unlimited data to all current customers who have plans with data for the next 60 days. It will also provide additional data to mobile hotspot users.
Hyundai: The automaker is reviving its Hyundai Assurance Job Loss Protection Program to give owners “peace of mind in uncertain times” as the coronavirus outbreak leads to concerns that Americans will stop buying new cars and trucks. Hyundai said the program will provide up to six months of car payments to new buyers if they lose their jobs involuntarily. It will also provide 90 days of payment deferral on new purchases.
Ford Motor: Ford is offering customers “potential delay of payments to provide relief.” It’s also providing new-car buyers the chance to delay their first payment by 90 days.
Enterprise: The rental car company is reducing the minimum age for renting a car to 18 through May 31 “to make it easier for students to get home to their families” due to the suspension of college courses.
Hertz: The rental car company has also reduced the minimum age for renting a car to 18 through May 31 and is waiving the associated “young renter fee.”
For the complete list, go to USA Today.
Thanks to the $2.2 trillion stimulus package that was finally passed by Congress, qualified mortgage payments are now being forgiven for up to one year, and student loan borrowers have been given a 6-month, interest-free break from making payments.