See how State Farm and Allstate are marketing refunds during pandemic in loyalty play
With many of their customers’ cars currently sitting idle in driveways across the U.S. due to the coronavirus lockdown, several auto insurers announced refunds this week. Now, they’re running ads to promote them.
Late Thursday, State Farm announced it will be returning up to $2 billion to its auto insurance customers as part of a recently revealed "Good Neighbor Relief Program." On average customers will receive a credit of 25 percent of their premiums for the period between March 20 and May 31, when many Americans are home and not driving to their workplaces. A 30-second commercial, filmed by State Farm associates from their homes, promoted the refunds.
“We know that our customers are driving less, which means fewer accidents,” says Melissa Vargas, a State Farm employee in agency operations, in the spot, which also includes an appearance from its "Jake from State Farm" character. State Farm’s lead creative agency, the Marketing Arm, helped the insurer produce the content, which came together in a matter of days, according to a spokeswoman.
Liberty Mutual, Allstate and Geico have also announced auto refunds for their policyholders. Progressive is running a new spot around its “Apron Relief Program,” which gives its auto customers 20 percent credits on April and May premiums for up to $1 billion. The spot, created with Arnold, is voiced by CEO Tricia Griffith, marking the first time she has been featured in an ad for the brand.
Allstate is currently running an ad starring CEO Tom Wilson that promotes the brand's "Shelter in Place Payback." Speaking from what appears to be his home, Wilson offers instructions on how Allstate customers can find out more information through the brand's app or website.
Insurance experts say the move to be proactive—by issuing refunds ahead of any regulator mandates—is a smart one as it will help brands deepen connections with their customers and avoid negative publicity.
“It’s a great way to build loyalty, demonstrate value to policyholders, and bolster their reputations,” says Ellen Carney, an analyst at Forrester, noting that smaller regional carriers like Shelter Mutual in Columbia, Missouri are also issuing refunds along with the larger national players. She said such initiatives are particularly important in cementing customer loyalty now ahead of natural disaster claim season this summer, and serve as something insurers can point back to later this year. “They can point to the premium relief as a way to say, ‘See, we are in this together and have stepped up to help our customers,’” adds Carney.
However, Carney notes that one question for insurers right now may be how they handle the uninsured—which she says comprise one in 8 of drivers. “This great social test that we're all taking right now is a moment for insurance organizations not just to offer relief for the existing policyholders but how to create new kinds of coverage that provide some protection to this very under-served market,” she says, noting per-trip coverage options, for example.