Fiat has announced a new seven-month “payment waiver” scheme for finance customers who lose their jobs during the first year of the agreement. The scheme, which is also being offered by Fiat’s sister brands Alfa Romeo, Jeep and Abarth, is designed to instill confidence in consumers concerned about their job security during the Covid-19 crisis.

The “job loss protection” package will be included for all new finance agreements, such as personal contract purchases (PCPs). Contract hire (or ‘leasing’) agreements will also include the cover.

Under the terms of the deal, any customer who involuntarily loses their job during the first 12 months of the agreement will be allowed to “forgo” up to seven months of payments. And not only will the scheme cover those who lose their job, but also those who cannot work due to sickness.

However, the job loss protection clause can only be triggered during the first 12 months of the agreement - after that point, the deals will work like any other, and finance payments must be kept up to avoid losing the vehicle. The free protection is also only available with finance deals agreed between June 1, 2020 and the end of September, 2020.

Car salesman handing keys over finance agreement documents

Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), the owners of the brands involved in the scheme, says the offer could stimulate demand among buyers, after its survey of 2,000 people found “approximately one in three motorists” are interested in buying a new car but are concerned about job security. The research also revealed that 36 percent of respondents would consider buying a new car if the manufacturer covered finance payments as a result of them losing their job.

Arnaud Leclerc, the managing director of FCA in the UK and Ireland, said the scheme would help customers through the turbulent period of the coronavirus crisis.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

“We know these are uncertain times,” he said. “So what better way to support our customers than to give them the reassurance that should their financial circumstances change in the months ahead, we will be there to cover their monthly car repayments?”

Meanwhile Alex Hughes, the managing director of FCA Automotive Services UK, said the initiative was coming to the market at the perfect time for customers.

“We are really pleased to support our brand partners in launching this exciting new initiative," he said. "We are always keen to find innovative ways to address consumer needs, and we believe that this is the right customer offer at exactly the right time.”