Gap Insurance Explained
Gap Insurance or gap protection, is insurance that covers what you owe on your current car and the worth of your car. Gap insurance is not mandatory to have but you might need it if you have:
Leased your vehicle
60 months or more of financing
Put 20% down on your vehicle
Previous vehicle loan that rolls into negative equity that was used as a loan on your new vehicle
Averaging 15,000 miles or more per year
A history of high depreciation rates on the vehicle you purchased
Many drivers believe their standard insurance policy covers enough regarding protection, such as repair costs and car replacement (your car was stolen or damaged). Here’s the tricky part: if you get into a car crash and your car’s actual value is much lower than the loan amount on your lease or balance (the gap) your insurance company will not cover you. Your insurance company will not pay more than your car is actually worth before you damaged it. You are responsible for paying the tab.
What is gap protection? Gap protection is like an agreement like a debt cancellation agreement. It’s designed to cover the value of your car and the amount of the auto loan. Figure out how to close the gap before you pay for any gap protection. Here is how you figure out if you need gap insurance or not: if you own your car meaning you paid it all without a loan or the car has a lot of equity, you do not need to bother with gap insurance. Experts say if you have an auto loan and you have not put in a significant amount down on it then you should consider buying gap insurance. Contact your insurance carrier to see if they offer gap insurance. Most carriers will allow you to add gap insurance at any given time to over your original auto loan.
How Much Does Gap Insurance Costs?
Gap insurance premiums are usually 5 to 6 percent of your premium for collision and your comprehensive car insurance. For example, if you have a $1,4000 premium annually, and you have between $420-$560 for collision and comprehensive, your gap insurance would be around $20-$30. The costs of the gap insurance goes down once your vehicle begins to age. Do not pay for gap insurance at a dealership. Why? It’s more expensive and most people do not know any better, so it would be recommended to buy gap insurance from an insurance company. Buying from an insurance company is wiser since it’s less expensive.
What Does Gap Insurance Cover?
What you owe on your vehicle and your vehicle’s value is what gap insurance covers. Gap insurance covers the difference. For example, you just totaled your car in an accident and your insurance company claims your car is a total loss. You have gap insurance, so what happens next?
$30,000 is the amount you would owe the lender you got your loan from.
$27,000 is how much your vehicle is worth according to your insurance company and they call this value “real cash value.”
$3000 is the difference between the amount you owe the lender and the value of your car.
Add another $3000 that your insurance company pays since you have gap insurance.
This is only an example and there could be more factors in play. It depends on the insurance company you are working with, e.g. Progressive limits the amount they pay by 25% of the value of your car at the time of its loss.
Where Can I Buy Gap Insurance?
There are multiple ways you can buy gap insurance. You could buy it from your lender, an auto insurance company or from a car dealership. Make sure you know what the company is covering before you buy gap insurance. If you are currently leasing your vehicle, many leasing companies include gap insurance automatically in their contracts.
The cost of gap insurance will vary depending on many factors, as well. Lenders and dealers do offer gap insurance coverage but it would make more sense for you to buy via an insurance company because the premiums will be less. The process is much easier with the insurance company because you will have the advantage of having the gap insurance billed to you as part of your car insurance premium.
Why is the process much smoother through an insurance company? You deal with only one company and you also work with one claims representative.