It has been 143 days since the first coronavirus case was detected in Wuhan, China, and since, the world has more or less come to a grinding halt in a bid to curb the spread of the disease before it is too late. The U.S. is set to enter into a recession, roughly 93 percent of the global population now lives in countries with coronavirus-related travel restrictions, and much of the world is in lockdown. COVID-19 is a disaster of epic proportions – not least because of the devastating consequences it will have on human health, but also because of those economic consequences we are all fearing will follow in the aftermath.
Personal finances will take a hit over the coming months, and COVID-19 will place a particularly large burden on those committed to repayment or loan schemes who are unable to continue making those payments, as a result of losing their income or working fewer hours. So what will COVID-19 mean for those people? And what support is in place to help them at this challenging time?
For anyone in the travel and tourism industry, COVID-19 is not good news. Borders are shut, caravan parks are closed, and people are being told to “stay at home” despite it being the Easter weekend, for fear of the virus spreading even further. What this also means is that people are now finding themselves burdened by loans they may have taken out to pay for a caravan or four-wheel-drive, but told that they can’t actually go anywhere or use those vehicles. Thankfully, there are relief measures in place to help those on loan schemes to get through this difficult time.
Economists have backed plans presented by Australia’s biggest banks to allow homeowners impacted by the pandemic to defer mortgage repayments for up to six months, depending on the bank. CEO of Australian Banking Association (ABA), Anna Bligh, said in an official statement, “Banks stand ready to support customers and if anyone is in need of assistance, they shouldn’t wait but come forward as soon as possible.”
Relief measures include waiving fees on early term deposit withdrawals, interest rate freezes on loans, emergency credit card limit increases and options to defer or restructure home loan repayments. The four big banks – ANZ, Commonwealth, NAB and WestPac – have committed to at least some measures, while smaller lenders are also offering relief for business and consumer customers.
In the U.S., where 7 million people are already finding it difficult to pay back car loans, automakers are setting up programs that alleviate the burden on borrowers, by allowing them to defer or pause their loan payments if they have been financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Ford, Nissan, and Toyota have said they will provide payment relief options to people impacted by the virus, enabling them to extend or defer lease payments, while Maserati is waiving late fees and offering lease extensions of up to six months. Mitsubishi Motors, as another example, is allowing owners to defer payments for up to 120 days if they’re financed through Mitsubishi’s financial partner, Ally. In Australia, Volkswagen is inviting people who have been directly impacted by COVID-19 and are therefore unable to meet car loan repayments to apply for financial hardship exception, as are the many other auto companies operating in the country. Latitude is another finance provider offering assistance to those affected by COVID-19 in Australia and New Zealand, including reduced monthly payments and reduced interest on credit cards, personal loans and motor loans. These are just a few of the many companies offering similar relief measures.
For those with caravan loans, the story is much the same. Customers should seek the advice and directions of individual lenders, banks, and auto companies they have repayment schemes with, to determine which measures are in place to help those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is where it really pays off to have not just found the lowest rate on an online caravan loans calculator, but to have taken out a loan with a company that really cares about its customers.
Now is the time where we are seeing a very definitive line forming between those businesses that exist purely to make profit, and those that exist in order to better society through caring for its staff and customers. In Britain, Glasgow-based beer company ‘Brew Gooder’ has set up the “One On Us” campaign, which invites philanthropic boozers to purchase a four-pack for £6 to be donated to “NHS champions”. Pornhub in the meantime has opened free access to the whole of Italy for the duration of the coronavirus crisis, Coursera has launched a global campaign to assist schools and universities in distant teaching, and Lush, a UK cosmetics retailer, has invited the British public to come in and wash their hands in-store for free. Let’s just hope Australia’s holidaymaker companies, including caravan and auto makers, are just as kind to the general public (and their customers) at this trying time.