Allstate is giving $600 million back to customers because there are fewer car crashes during the coronavirus pandemic

grapier@businessinsider.com (Graham Rapier)
An interstate sits empty in San Francisco, California on April 1, 2020 during the Covid 19 crisis. - All 40 million residents of California were Thursday ordered to stay at home indefinitely in a bid to battle the coronavirus pandemic in the nation's most populous state.

JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images

  • Insurance giants are saving hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to the drop in filed claims as Americans stop driving. 
  • Allstate said it would return $600 million, or about 15% of premiums, to customers this month. 
  • Across the world, a drop in driving has meant fewer wrecks, cleaner air, and safer streets for everyone — not just drivers.
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Allstate is returning hundreds of millions from auto insurance premiums as the number of claims filed falls dramatically thanks to a similar decrease in driving.

The No. 4 American insurer said Monday that most customers will get 15% of their monthly premiums back in April, totaling about $600 million.

"This is fair because less driving means fewer accidents," chief executive Tom Wilson said in a press release.

American Family Insurance, a smaller company based in Wisconsin, said it was also returning about $200 million in premiums to drivers in the state for similar reasons.

Accidents are indeed down as drivers across America are forced to shelter-at-home. According to University of California Davis researchers, the number of total wrecks and fatalities are both down about 50% since March 19 when the state issued stay-at-home orders.

Driver are, of course, still making egregious mistakes and causing deadly crashes, but the smaller number of cars has also meant cleaner air for most of the US. In the case of Los Angeles, the air quality is the best it's been in four decades.

But it's not good news for everyone. The company behind red light enforcement cameras in more than 90 US and Canadian cities warned investors in March that revenue could fall 15% as it triggers less citations.

It's hard to see drivers angry about that one, either.

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