ABC News Corona Virus Economic Impacts

Auto insurance companies returning $800M in premiums during COVID-19

Two companies announced premium relief plans amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Two auto insurance giants announced they are returning a total of $800 million in premiums to customers during the novel coronavirus pandemic, saying people are driving less and they are experiencing fewer claims.

Allstate pledged to return $600 million to its customers amid the COVID-19 outbreak, and American Family Insurance said it would return $200 million.

Allstate called it a "Shelter-in-Place Payback" program, saying most customers will receive 15% of their monthly premium in April and May. They can opt to receive the money through a credit to their bank account, credit card or in their Allstate account.

Tom Wilson, the president and CEO of Allstate, called the move "fair" as less people are driving amid government-mandated stay-at-home orders.

"This crisis is pervasive. Given an unprecedented decline in driving, customers will receive a Shelter-in-Place Payback of more than $600 million over the next two months," Wilson said in a statement. "This is fair because less driving means fewer accidents."

American Family Insurance said they will give customers a one-time payment of $50 per vehicle that is covered by an American Family personal auto policy, and expects to print and distribute 2.3 million checks within the next two months.

"American Family Insurance is doing this out of responsibility to our customers. They are driving less and experiencing fewer claims. Because of these results, they deserve premium relief," Telisa Yancy, the company's chief operating officer, said in a statement.

The financial relief announcements from both companies also comes as the U.S. economy faces an unprecedented crisis as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Nonessential businesses across the country have shuttered to help prevent the spread of the disease, leaving millions without work.

Some 10 million people filed for unemployment insurance in recent weeks, smashing previous records.