GAP Insurance Basics

GAP insurance isn’t mandatory but is recommended if you’re buying a brand new car or leasing a vehicle. GAP insurance coverage covers the difference between what the vehicle is worth and what the driver still owes on a loan or lease agreement. If your vehicle is totaled in an accident, a GAP insurance policy would cover the outstanding amount you owe out of pocket. Enter your ZIP code below and start comparing quotes now to get the best rate on GAP insurance in your state.

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Natasha McLachlan is a writer who currently lives in Southern California. She is an alumna of California College of the Arts, where she obtained her B.A. in Writing and Literature. Her current work revolves around insurance guides and informational articles. She truly enjoys helping others learn more about everyday, practical matters through her work.

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance for 10 years. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Former Licensed Agent

UPDATED: Nov 7, 2020

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There are few things as horrifying as getting into an automobile accident. If your car gets wrecked, especially a newer or more expensive car, another type of horror can set in after the accident. You may still owe a
substantial amount of money for the car and begin to worry about how you are going to pay the difference.

GAP insurance is the kind of coverage you would want to have if you were in this scenario. If your new car is totaled, standard coverage may only pay the book value of the car. GAP coverage can pay for the remaining balance of your payments.

How GAP Insurance Works

Here’s an example that may be helpful: Let’s say you purchased a new car for $20,000 and paid a $500 down payment. Your monthly payments are $350 and you pay your monthly payment for 6 months, at which point the car is severely damaged or destroyed.

This is when GAP coverage kicks in. At this point you have paid $2600 dollars on the car, but still owe $17,400 on it. GAP insurance pays the difference between where your collision insurance ends (typically $16,550) and the remaining balance. So, GAP coverage will pick up the bill for the remaining $1,100 that you would have had to pay for on your own without GAP coverage.

GAP Insurance: Buyers

Those people that have already paid for the majority of what a car is worth probably won’t need GAP insurance. GAP insurance is best suited to people that owe more on an automobile than it is worth.

Remember, once you drive it off the lot, a car’s value begins to depreciate. GAP insurance can be invaluable in this circumstance.

GAP coverage is also good to have in cases where you have a very high interest loan or if you owe the car dealer money after a trade in. So remember, if you owe a lot on your car for any of these reasons, GAP insurance should be a major consideration for
you.

GAP Insurance: Lessors

Leasing a car is based around the principle of paying less for your car payments than the car is actually worth. GAP insurance can come in handy for drivers who lease. It is so important to have that many dealers make it mandatory for those who are leasing to have GAP insurance, before the lease is signed.

GAP Coverage is Voluntary

As we have stated, GAP insurance isn’t right for every situation. Most states require auto insurance, but it is never GAP insurance that is required. Don’t brush over the fact that GAP insurance may indeed be for you. Assess your situation as it pertains to your car and compare it to the scenarios and information from this article.

If it would turn out that you would owe more money than a car is actually worth, you may want to get GAP coverage on your automobile insurance policy.

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