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USAA plans to cover COVID-19 vehicle sanitization through at least March 31

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USAA has extended its timeframe for reimbursing auto body shops’ COVID-19 vehicle sanitization efforts through the end of the first quarter.

The nation’s fifth largest insurer said it would definitely cover certain cleaning charges until April.

Due to the continued breakout of COVID-19 virus infections throughout the U.S., USAA has extended the date for payment of vehicle sanitizing charges to March 31, 2021,” USAA senior learning process consultant Jimmy Horner wrote in a Jan. 15 memo obtained by Repairer Driven News. (Emphasis Horner’s.)

“USAA recognizes the need to ensure the well-being of our customers and repair facility personnel during this national pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus.”

It was unclear if the memo was directed at USAA’s direct repair program shops or unaffiliated body shops, or both.

USAA spokeswoman Lara Hendrickson on Thursday confirmed this remained the company’s plan as of that point. We had also asked if this assessment and timetable meant more adjusters would be available in the field after March 31.

Hendrickson replied with the following:

Earlier this year, we extended sanitizing through March 31, 2021. We are monitoring COVID-19 safety implications on an ongoing basis, and will make necessary adjustments to plans if and when needed in order to keep our members, employees, suppliers and service providers safe.

Horner wrote the carrier will cover 0.5 hours of body labor and $15 worth of materials at drop-off and delivery.

He said customers would be reimbursed for the charge “upon request, or on estimates and supplements when vehicles delivered/dropped off for repair.”

CDC: COVID-19 data, precautions

Reports of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have declined after reaching a record high of 314,792 on Jan. 8, according to the Centers for Disease Control. On Wednesday, the last date with statistics available, the CDC received reports of 69,165 new cases.

As of Thursday, 41 million people have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. Nearly 16.2 million of them have obtained both of the doses necessary for the maximum protection under the two vaccines currently approved for the U.S. While the vaccines are proven to keep recipients from contracting COVID-19 or from getting really sick when then they do, scientists aren’t sure how well they prevent recipients from spreading COVID-19 to someone else, according to the CDC.

The main COVID-19 threat is “respiratory droplets generated when people cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe,” according to the CDC. It advises everyone to wear a mask in their workplace and describes two benefits. The main reason is keeping a  wearer who has COVID-19 (whether they know it or not) from passing the disease on to somebody else, according to the CDC. But research also shows that masks can protect the wearer from COVID-19 droplets exhaled their way, the agency says.

“Spread from touching surfaces is not thought to be a common way that COVID-19 spreads,” according to the CDC.

Nevertheless, the agency still advises workplaces to routinely sanitize surfaces to avoid the risk of COVID-19. It also has issued a separate set of cleaning and disinfecting guidelines when someone has been sick.

“Respiratory droplets can also land on surfaces and objects,” the CDC writes. “It is possible that a person could get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.”

More information:

Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 “Workplaces and Businesses” webpage

COVID-19 “Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility” webpage

CDC COVID-19 guidance for “What Rideshare, Taxi, Limo, and other Passenger Drivers-for-Hire Need to Know about COVID-19” (Discusses vehicle cleaning a little.)

Ford COVID-19 “Coronavirus Recommended Disinfection Procedure Summary”

Environmental Protection Agency “List N” of approved COVID-19 disinfecting products

Images:

The Centers for Disease Control advises businesses to routinely sanitize surfaces to avoid the risk of COVID-19. (Joanna Skoczen/iStock)

An apoptotic cell, red, is infected with SARS-COV-2 COVID-19 coronavirus particles, yellow, in this colorized scanning electron micrograph image. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode)

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