Before we dive into whether gap insurance is right for you, let’s start with a basic gap insurance definition. Gap insurance stands for Guaranteed Asset Protection insurance. It is an optional, add-on coverage that can help certain drivers cover the “gap” between the financed amount owed on their car and their car’s actual cash value (ACV), in the event of a covered incident where their car is declared a total loss.
For example, you are in an accident and are not found at fault – but your car is totaled. You still owe $13,000 on the auto loan at the time of the accident, but your car’s ACV is only $10,000. Gap insurance would help cover the $3,000 difference (minus your deductible).
Contrary to popular belief, gap insurance coverage does not mean that your insurance provider pays you the full amount you originally paid for your car. Having gap insurance means your insurance provider may pay the financed amount you currently owe on your car at the time of a covered accident, minus your deductible. Depending on your circumstances, gap insurance can be a smart addition to your collision insurance policy.
When to consider gap insurance
Gap insurance is a good option for the following types of drivers:
- Drivers who owe more on their car loan than the car is worth. If you are currently making car loan payments, be sure to calculate the loan balance and weigh it against your car’s current cash value. (Again, this is different from the amount you paid for the car.) Is there a gap? If so, you should strongly consider gap insurance.
- Drivers whose car loan requires gap insurance. Regardless of what you owe on your loan, some loan providers require gap insurance from the outset of your loan.
- Drivers whose lease requires gap insurance. Many auto leases require gap insurance as a protective measure. Some lease providers may already include gap insurance in the price of the lease.
Drivers who own their car outright and drivers who owe less on their car than its current ACV do not need gap insurance (as there is not a “gap” in value).
How much does gap insurance cost?
If you need gap coverage, you’re likely wondering what the added cost of gap insurance will be to your auto insurance premium. While gap insurance isn’t typically as expensive as broader coverages like comprehensive insurance or liability insurance, the cost varies depending on a variety of factors including:
- The current actual cash value of your car
- Your age
- The state you live in
- Your previous car insurance claims
Keep in mind that once you “close the gap” by owing less on your car than its actual cash value, you will no longer need gap insurance. Learn more about how insurance costs are calculated with this helpful article.
Is gap insurance worth it?
You may still be asking yourself – is gap insurance worth it? It certainly could be in the right circumstances. Gap insurance takes effect in the event of a complete loss of your vehicle, such as theft or a covered accident which renders your car a “total loss.” And although you might be a cautious, responsible driver, not everyone else on the road is. Not having gap insurance if you are “upside down” on your car loan could mean you are reimbursed for thousands less in the event of a complete loss. Are you willing to take a gamble on the gap? Learn more about whether gap insurance is right for you and start a free quote today.