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USAA will continue to reimburse COVID-19 auto sanitization through June 30

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USAA, the nation’s fifth-largest auto insurer, confirmed Tuesday it will keep covering COVID-19 auto cleaning through June 30.

“We are extending cleaning through June 30, 2021,” USAA spokeswoman Lara Hendrickson wrote in an email a day before what would have been the last day of such reimbursement.

This news follows at least one earlier date change. In January, a memo from USAA senior learning process consultant Jimmy Horner said the insurer had extended plans to cover the charges through March 31, 2021.

As of mid-February, this had remained USAA’s plan. 

“Earlier this year, we extended sanitizing through March 31, 2021,” Hendrickson wrote Feb. 18. “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.”

The new extension through June 30 puts USAA’s timetable more in line with the White House’s goal of “getting the nation closer to normal by July 4th and plan to have enough vaccine for every American adult by the end of spring.

Democratic President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a goal of 200 million vaccine shots in his first 100 days in office.

“With 200 million shots in the first 100 days, more than half of all adult Americans will have gotten at least one shot by April 29th,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients said Friday, according to a White House transcript. The COVID-19 vaccines often require a two-shot regimen.

Zients said that “by the end of May we will have enough vaccine for every adult in the U.S.,” according to the transcript.

NJM Insurance as late as Friday said the carrier would cease to cover vehicle cleaning as a precaution against COVID-19 after March 31. However, on Tuesday, it too reported it would continue to pay for the operation “for the foreseeable future.”

“NJM has always paid a fee to have vehicles cleaned upon the completion of repairs,” NJM said in a statement Tuesday. “Over the past 12 months, NJM has been paying an additional cleaning fee related to COVID-19. After further consideration, NJM has decided to continue paying the additional COVID-19 vehicle cleaning fee for the foreseeable future.”

Horner in January wrote that USAA would cover 0.5 hours of body labor and $15 worth of materials at drop-off and delivery to clean and disinfect vehicles. He said customers would be reimbursed for the charge “upon request, or on estimates and supplements when vehicles delivered/dropped off for repair.”

“Miscellaneous expenses (e.g., manual entries for scan fees, calibration fees, and other sublet fees) have grown from 5.7 percent of the overall (repair cost) spend in CY 2013 to 8 percent in CY 2020,” CCC wrote in its 2021 “Crash Course.” “COVID-19 introduced a new fee associated with disinfecting the vehicle — a fee often entered as a manual line and therefore also rolled up into the ‘Miscellaneous Amt.’ In Q1 2020, only 1.1 percent of all appraisals included a fee — by Q4 2020 it was over 30 percent. The average fee from March 2020 to December 2020 fell gradually, averaging $46 per appraisal over that time.”

The main COVID-19 threat is “respiratory droplets generated when people cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe,” according to the CDC, which continues to advise everyone to wear a mask at their workplace.

“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. This includes using items from the Environmental Protection Agency “List N” of approved COVID-19 disinfecting products.

“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 on “What Mail and Parcel Delivery Drivers Need to Know about COVID-19” (Discusses vehicle cleaning a little.)

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.)

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

Featured image: Transmission electron micrograph of Particles of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19 coronavirus, are seen in a scanning electron micrograph image. The NIAID Fort Detrick, Md., Integrated Research Facility color-enhanced the image. (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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