What Is Gap Insurance?

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Buying a car is a significant investment, and protecting your investment is essential. However, while standard auto insurance covers damages to your car, it may not cover the total cost of your car in case of theft or total loss. This is where gap insurance comes in handy. This guide will explore what gap insurance is, what it covers, and whether it’s worth getting.

What Is Gap Insurance?

Gap insurance is an add-on car coverage policy that bridges the gap between what you owe on your vehicle and the amount your insurer will reimburse if it’s stolen or totaled. Suppose you own a $25,000 car but owe $30,000 – in such cases, regular auto protection would pay out only up to $25K upon theft/total loss of your motorcar. That’s where gap insurance steps in — providing coverage for the remaining balance of these unforeseen costs!

Can I Cancel Gap Insurance

What Does the Gap Mean on Insurance?

The “gap” in insurance refers to the difference between what you owe on your car and what the insurance company will pay if it’s stolen or totaled. The gap exists because a car’s value depreciates faster than the loan balance.

How Long Do I Need Gap Insurance?

The time you need gap insurance depends on your car’s depreciation rate and how much you owe on your loan. Generally, you may need gap insurance for the first few years of your loan when the car’s value depreciates quickly. Once the value of your car reaches the same amount as your loan balance, you may no longer need gap insurance. However, reviewing your policy to understand the terms and conditions and when the coverage ends are crucial.

How Does a Gap Insurance Refund Work?

You may be eligible for a gap insurance refund if you sell your car or pay off your loan before the gap insurance term ends. Your payment will depend on your policy’s terms and the new coverage amount. Typically, gap insurance refunds are prorated, which means you’ll receive a refund for the unused portion of your policy.

Is Gap Insurance Worth Getting?

Gap insurance is worth getting if you have a new car, are financing your car, and owe more on your loan than your car’s value. It provides extra protection and peace of mind in case of theft or total loss. However, if you own your car outright or your car’s value is more significant than your loan balance, you may not need gap insurance.

What Happens If You Don’t Use Your Gap Insurance?

If you don’t use your gap insurance, it will expire at the policy term’s end. However, it’s important to note that gap insurance is optional, and you are not required to purchase it. If you choose not to get gap insurance and your car is stolen or totaled, you’ll be responsible for paying the difference between your car’s value and your loan balance out of pocket.

Next Steps

Gap insurance can be a valuable addition to your car insurance policy if you have a new car, are financing your car, and owe more on your loan than your car’s value. It can provide extra protection and peace of mind in case of theft or total loss. However, reviewing your policy to understand the terms and conditions and when the coverage ends is essential. If you’re unsure whether gap insurance is right for you, consult your insurance agent to help you make an informed decision.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Gap insurance considered full coverage?

No, gap insurance is not the same as full coverage, but it can be part of full coverage.

How long can you have gap insurance?

Gap insurance purchased from a dealership covers the loan or lease for its entire duration, while gap coverage obtained through an auto insurer remains on your policy as long as you keep it.

What does gap insurance exclude?

Gap insurance doesn’t cover repairs, the down payment on a new car, rental expenses incurred while your auto is in repair services, or any interest and penalties associated with your situation.

Does gap insurance cover an upside-down trade-in?

If your vehicle is stolen or totaled and the value of it does not match what you owe on the loan, GAP insurance comes to the rescue. It covers the difference between its worth and the amount borrowed from a lender. This type of coverage might come in clutch when an unfortunate event happens, so it’s something to consider if you’re “upside-down” on your car loan!

Does gap insurance affect your credit?

Car insurance providers do not transmit your premium payments to the credit bureaus, so there is no indication of a policy on your credit report.

Can you cancel gap insurance?

Gap insurance is typically cancellable at any moment. Yet, if you have leased a car, your leasing company may necessitate keeping the coverage. Various explanations prompt cancellation of gap coverage, including selling the vehicle or exchanging it for another gap insurer.

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

The Annuity Expert is an online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. My goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning or find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates for you. 

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