Admiral to give £25 car insurance refunds over coronavirus lockdown

Empty motorway

Admiral has become the first major UK motor insurer to offer its customers partial refunds, as many drivers are stuck at home because of the Covid-19 pandemic, but industry experts say the move does not go far enough.

The group, Britain’s biggest car insurer, said it would return £110m to its policyholders – a £25 refund for each car and van it covered as of 20 April, a total of 4.4m vehicles. The refund will automatically be credited to customers by the end of May.

This will pressure other companies to follow suit, as insurers reap the benefit of reduced accident and breakdown claims under the lockdown. Some industry estimates suggest insurers could save up to £1bn as a result this year.

Gareth Shaw, the head of money at Which?, said: “People will remember how businesses treated them during this crisis, and Admiral’s decision to provide partial refunds to all of its car and van policyholders will certainly be welcomed by customers experiencing unforeseen pressure on their finances.

“Firms that act fairly now may see that they are rewarded in the future, and we encourage all other car insurers to follow Admiral’s lead.”

James Blackham, the chief executive of By Miles, which provides cover on the basis of car usage, said Admiral’s move, while welcome, does not go far enough. “We’ve calculated that over a two-month lockdown, drivers could be between £35 to £58 out of pocket, for each car they own … It’s a shame, too, that the refund won’t be processed until the end of May.”

Admiral has pledged a further £80m, mainly to reduce prices, with the biggest cuts to benefit renewing customers with above-average premiums, such as younger drivers. Some of the money will go towards measures to support NHS staff, as well as a £4m Covid-19 support fund in south Wales, where Admiral is based.

Cristina Nestares, the chief executive of UK insurance at Admiral, said: “We want to give the money we would have used to pay claims back to our loyal customers in this difficult time. We have also already reflected this change in driving behaviour in our pricing for customers and will continue to do so.”

Admiral has also been offering customers who are struggling payment holidays, although any deferred payments have to be repaid by the end of the policy term. Other UK insurers – Axa, Aviva and the AA – have also offered payment holidays to customers on a case-by-case basis.

Admiral said it is waiving any motoring claims excess fees for NHS or emergency service workers and giving them a free courtesy vehicle if their vehicle is stolen or undriveable after an accident, to keep them on the road during the lockdown.