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Compare gap insurance for loaned or leased cars

Pay off your car loan after an accident with gap coverage.

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Fact checked

Guaranteed asset protection, more commonly known as gap insurance or lease coverage, protects your car loan or lease if your car’s totaled or stolen while you’re still paying off your car loan or lease.

What is gap insurance?

With a car loan, you’re paying for a brand new car that depreciates the minute you drive it off the lot. And if your car is stolen or totaled, car insurance only covers the value of your car, not the total amount of your car loan. Gap insurance protects you for the amount, or gap, left on your car loan.

How does gap insurance work?

You might own more on your car loan than your car is worth. Gap insurance, will pay for the full value of your car so you don’t have to pay off your loan out of pocket.

  • Say you took out a car loan and bought a car for $20,000. Then your car is stolen.
  • Your insurer pays you $15,000 for your stolen car’s value, what it’s worth a year later.
  • You’ve been making payments on your loan but still owe $18,000, so your payout wasn’t enough to pay off the rest of your loan.
  • Gap coverage would pay for the difference of $3,000 to cover the rest of your loan.
  • If you didn’t have gap coverage, you’d owe the bank $3,000 on a car you no longer have.

How does gap insurance work for a leased car?

With a lease, you make a small down payment and pay monthly to essentially rent your car for several years. But gap insurance could still be worth it for a leased car.

If your leased car is totaled, you still owe the dealer the remaining payments on the lease. And after driving the car for a year or two, the leased car will typically depreciate in value just like a new car. You’d be on the hook for paying back the remaining lease payments without gap insurance.

Is gap insurance worth it?

The biggest benefit to gap insurance is that it covers you if you still owe a large amount on your car loan.

New cars are especially at risk for the first few years, since your new ride will depreciate significantly as soon as you drive it off the dealer’s lot. And if you need a car and end up with an outstanding debt after an accident, you could find it much harder to get the financing needed for a replacement vehicle.

Do I need gap insurance?

Consider buying gap insurance if:

  • You bought or leased a new car.
  • Your car loan has repayment terms of 60 months or longer.
  • You haven’t paid down your car’s current value on the loan.
  • You put a small down payment on your vehicle.
  • You bought a high value car that depreciates quickly.
  • You need your car for transportation and have no backup ride.
  • You rolled over an old car loan into your new loan.

When should I skip gap insurance?

You won’t need gap insurance if:

  • You bought your car outright.
  • You’re close to paying off your loan.
  • You set a down payment of 20% or more on your car loan.
  • You paid down your car loan to its current value.
  • Your policy uses your car’s agreed value instead of market value.
  • You could afford another car outright if yours was totaled.

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Get unlimited discounts and score a lower deductible every 6 months you don't make a claim.

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Compare car insurance with gap coverage

Name Product Roadside assistance New car protection Accident forgiveness Safe driver discount Available states
Progressive
Optional
30%
All 50 states
Get unlimited discounts and score a lower deductible every 6 months you don't make a claim.
Clearcover
Optional
Yes
AZ, CA, IL, LA, OH, TX, UT and WI
Find basic coverage and low rates through its easy online or app-based experience.
Assurance
Optional
Yes
All states except AK & HI
Your broker is your one-stop shop for comparing any coverage you need.
Car Insurance Finder
Optional
Optional
Yes
All 50 states
Get your customized online car insurance quote from top brands near you. Answer 3 easy questions to see your top picks in seconds.
The AARP Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford
Optional
Yes
All 50 states & DC
Enjoy exclusive savings and benefits designed for experienced drivers over the age of 49.
Esurance
40%
All states except AK, DE, HI, MT, NH, VT, WY
Convenient online quotes, coverage and claims for tech-savvy drivers.
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Ask an expert: When should I consider gap coverage?

Dennis Sawan

Dennis Sawan

Managing partner of Sawan & Sawan

“A general auto insurance policy is designed to pay the lender the vehicle’s current cash value — not the current loan balance. The difference can be thousands of dollars. The average new vehicle loses 30% of its value the first year. By year three, that loss in value will be close to 50%. This is where gap insurance can help.

Consider this example: If your vehicle cost $25,000 new, your insurer would probably pay about $18,000 for a total loss during the first year. That’s a $7,000 shortfall. Depending on the amount of your down payment (or trade-in equity), you would still be responsible to your lender for the balance of the loan. If you have car gap insurance, your insurer pays the difference, not you.

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer regarding the need for gap insurance, you’re a likely candidate if you:

  • Lease a vehicle.
  • Finance for 60 months or more.
  • Put less than 20% down.
  • Roll negative equity from a previous vehicle loan into a new vehicle loan.
  • Drive more than the average 15,000 miles annually.
  • Purchase a vehicle with a history of high depreciation rates.”

How much is gap insurance?

Gap insurance usually costs as little as $20 to $30 a year or $2 a month as an add-on to your car insurance policy. You typically only need it for a few years while you pay back your loan. You can almost always add gap insurance to your existing car insurance policy. Most car insurers offer gap coverage, including Progressive, Allstate, AAA and USAA.

Can I buy gap insurance by itself?

Your car dealer or financer will also offer gap insurance, but it’s often very expensive — to the tune of several hundred dollars a year. Don’t let your lender or dealer convince you it’s necessary to drive off the lot or get your loan approved.It’s almost never a good financial decision to get gap coverage from your car dealer because you’d be paying hundreds more for the exact same coverage.

What should I watch out for with gap insurance?

  • There are exclusions. Check any exclusions listed in your policy that might prevent a payout. Losses due to circumstances like impaired driving or illegal activities can usually safely be marked down as not covered.
  • You’ll need full coverage. Gap insurance is generally only available if you have a policy that includes comprehensive coverage. That’s typically required by your lender anyway.
  • Don’t purchase gap insurance from a dealer. Not only is it more expensive, there’s also a chance it’s a common car dealer scam. Unscrupulous car dealers might pocket your gap insurance payment without actually giving you coverage, or offer coverage with unreasonable exclusions.

Case study: John’s accident

John bought a new $10,000 car using a car loan provided by his dealer. The terms of his loan states he needs to repay a total of $11,000 to the dealer after factoring in interest.

He insured the new car at market value with a comprehensive car insurance policy. The moment he drives it off the lot, his new car turns into a second-hand car and is now worth only $9,000.

Soon after this, John gets into an accident and completely totals his new car. Fortunately, he has collision car insurance. He makes a claim and gets reimbursed for the total market value of the car, which is $9,000. Now he has no car and still owes his car dealer $2,000.

John uses his car gap insurance to cover the $2,000 he needs to pay the remainder of his loan. His insurance pays off the full remainder of the loan for him. Now he can shop for a new car without any existing debt.

Bottom line

Gap insurance can keep you from paying an arm and a leg if you lose your car. To save money, make sure you compare the best rates with an online insurance comparison tool and avoid the expensive option from your car dealer.

Frequently asked questions about gap insurance

Learn more about gap insurance

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