The lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic could mean personal and commercial auto insurers will see steady declines in premiums written for the next several quarters – and maybe for years, according to a new report from the Deloitte center for Financial Services.
The pandemic and associated lockdowns have led to fewer cars on the road, with a year-over-year drop of 40.2% in miles driven by US drivers in April and a 25.5% drop in May. The Freight Transportation Services Index, which tracks commercial activity, fell by 13.7% in April and 11.9% in May.
“Although reports suggest that driving trends have started to normalize in recent months, persistent health concerns, a greater acceptance of remote working, and an ongoing economic slowdown could result in reduced vehicle usage for quite some time,” Deloitte said in its report. “Our baseline forecasting scenario suggests that a combination of factors prompted by the pandemic could result in a decline of 6.2% in personal auto insurance premiums written, and 3.5% for commercial auto in 2020.
On the other hand, profitability could see a boost, since fewer cars on the road means fewer accidents, and hence, fewer claims, Deloitte said.
Still, Deloitte predicted single-digit rate decreases for the next several quarters, which could keep personal auto premiums well below pre-pandemic levels until 2023. An overall decline in commerce will probably keep commercial auto premiums below pre-pandemic levels until at least 2022, Deloitte said.
Personal auto net written premiums are believed to have dropped as much as 11.4% quarter over quarter in Q2, and are expected to decline 1.3% quarter over quarter between Q1 2021 and Q1 2022. Commercial auto net written premiums may fall 1.4% quarter over quarter throughout the year due to the economic slowdown, and remain flat in 2021, Deloitte said.