By Allison Jones

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ Ontario has made a regulatory change that will more easily allow auto insurance companies to provide breaks to their customers because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The change will allow insurance companies to provide auto insurance premium rebates to consumers for up to 12 months after the emergency has ended.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips said he will be watching to see companies’ responses.

“Given the financial crisis that’s facing many Ontario families, I think with this barrier removed we should expect insurance companies to be responding in a matter of days,” Phillips said.

The regular prohibition on such rebates is in place to ensure consumers aren’t misled in purchasing insurance based on them, the government said.

Phillips said Ontario isn’t dictating a certain percentage of rebate for companies to provide, but he said it needs to be  “commensurate with the scale of duress that Ontario families are under.”

He said some companies have already done this, and the province wants to make it as easy as possible for drivers to receive discounts because so few people are driving right now.

Allstate Insurance Co. of Canada is giving all of its drivers a “stay at home payment” of about 25 per cent of their monthly auto premium.

CAA Insurance has said a 10 per cent reduction for a year for both new and existing customers, once they renew, will be automatically applied.

Intact Financial Corp. and Aviva Canada are offering discounts of 15 per cent for customers who are driving less and reductions of 75 per cent for customers who park and store their vehicles.

Most companies are also offering to defer payments for customers in financial difficulty and waive non-sufficient fund fees.

The NDP has called on the Ontario government to mandate a three-month, 50 per cent discount on auto insurance.

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