Gap insurance in California works the same way as gap insurance in the rest of the U.S., by paying the balance remaining on a car loan or lease contract after a liability, comprehensive, or collision policy pays out the actual cash value of a totaled vehicle. The state of California doesn’t require any driver to carry gap insurance. However, certain lenders in California may require customers to carry gap insurance – short for guaranteed asset (or auto) protection insurance – if they get a car loan or lease.
Dozens of companies, including banks and dealerships, offer gap insurance in California. While you should take your time deciding which one is right for you, you can also have confidence in the fact that gap insurance works the same way in California as in the rest of the country.
Gap insurance is definitely worth the money if you owe more on your car loan or lease than the car is worth. For example, if you paid a small down payment on your car, your loan term is 4-5 years or your car will depreciate quickly, you should consider getting gap insurance. Gap insurance is never mandated by state law, and few lenders or lessors require it, so the decision to buy it depends on personal circumstances.… read full answer
Gap Insurance Is Worth It When:
You don’t have the savings to pay off your loan or lease if the car is totaled or stolen.
Your down payment is less than 20% of the car’s value.
Your loan will last four years or more.
You drive more miles than average, which reduces the car’s value faster.
Your car is a make and model that depreciates especially fast, like a luxury sedan or electric vehicle.
You are a single-car household and need a car to get around.
Your loan includes negative equity from your last car.
Since gap insurance covers the difference between the car’s actual cash value and the amount you owe, researching these two numbers will be a key deciding factor in whether gap insurance is worth it.
Why Getting Gap Insurance Is Worth It
For example, say you buy a car for $20,000 and your down payment is $2,000. This small down payment suggests that gap insurance might be worth it, but it’s still a good idea to check the car’s anticipated value after a year to determine if there will be a gap. If the car is worth $12,000 after a year but you’ll still owe $15,000, gap insurance could be a smart investment. If you don’t buy gap insurance and this car is totaled after a year, you’ll still owe $3,000 even though you can no longer drive it.
On the other hand, if your down payment is large enough or the car’s resale value is high enough that you’ll never owe more than the car is worth, gap insurance is unnecessary. Similarly, if you do owe more than the car is worth but you have the resources to pay the difference if the worst happens, it might be worth taking the risk.
Yes, you need gap insurance if you have full coverage and still owe money on a car loan or lease. Gap insurance is needed even if you have full coverage because full coverage does not cover the difference between what you owe on a loan/lease and the car’s actual cash value, like gap insurance does.… read full answer
When You Need Gap Insurance If You Have Full Coverage
You’re financing/leasing a new vehicle for a long term (60+months).
You made a small down payment on a new vehicle (less than 20%).
You rolled over negative equity from a previous auto loan.
You financed a vehicle that has a high depreciation rate.
Your contract has a high interest rate.
Your lender or lessor requires gap insurance.
The Difference Between Gap Insurance and Full Coverage
Gap insurance – short for guaranteed asset protection insurance, and sometimes called loan/lease payoff coverage – protects you financially from having to cover the cost of depreciation, or the difference between what you still owe on your contract and what your insurance company says the vehicle is actually worth today. Collision and comprehensive protection – the main components of full coverage, along with liability insurance – won’t cover that. As a result, you need gap insurance even if you have full coverage, especially if your situation leads to a relatively large gap to cover.
It’s important to remember that while gap insurance isn’t required by any insurer or state, having gap insurance on top of full collision and comprehensive coverage will probably be required by your lender if you’re financing/leasing a new vehicle, and even some used vehicles. In addition, gap insurance is meant specifically for drivers who still owe a balance on their vehicle, so if you own your car outright and have full coverage, you don’t have a need for gap insurance.
Gap insurance takes 5-45 days to pay the policyholder after a claim is filed. For drivers to receive a gap insurance payout, the car first needs to be declared a total loss, and the insurance company needs to accept the claim.
State laws also dictate how long an insurance company has to pay for a claim. For example, insurers in Texas must pay within five days after accepting a claim. Some other states, like Massachusetts, do not have a specific limit, saying only that an insurer must pay within a “reasonable” amount of time.… read full answer
Factors That Affect How Long it Takes for Gap Insurance to Pay
Insurance companies will generally declare a car a total loss within 30 days of the initial claim being filed. However, more complicated situations take longer to settle, such as:
Accidents involving multiple drivers
Unclear fault determination
Once the car has been officially established as a total loss and the insurer agrees to pay for gap coverage, the company will begin to process the gap payment. Since gap insurance pays for the difference between a car’s actual cash value (ACV) and the balance on its loan or lease, gap insurance payments are usually sent straight to the lessor or lender.
How To Speed Up Gap Insurance Payout
To get the fastest possible gap insurance payout, be sure to check your policy details and follow any instructions from your insurance company. For example, some insurers require you to keep making payments to your lender or lessor while the claim is being investigated.
Also make sure to send the insurance company any necessary documents, like a copy of the police report, and promptly sign and return all paperwork. And if needed, check your state’s laws to see if there’s a specific window during which your gap insurer is required to pay.
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