Leasing a Car and Insurance: Gap Insurance and Other Options

Jul 27, 2020 02:40 PM EDT | Staff Reporter

Leasing a Car and Insurance: Gap Insurance and Other Options

(Photo : Leasing a Car and Insurance: Gap Insurance and Other Options)

The process of leasing a car may seem about the same as financing one when you first look at it. After all, in both cases, you're making monthly payments to a finance company, and either way, you'll be driving a shiny new car off the lot once all the papers are signed!

However, there are a few very important differences between leasing and financing that you need to know before you make a decision. People sometimes prefer to lease vehicles rather than finance them for a variety of reasons, such as having the ability to trade in their vehicle and drive off the lot with a brand new car every two to three years with no strings attached or having lower monthly payments that come with leasing their car instead of financing. Whatever your reason, leasing a car may be the best option for you!

When your vehicle is a lease, you need to take certain special considerations regarding your insurance options. Since leasing a vehicle means you are technically not the owner of it, you need special coverage to ensure that if something happens prior to the end of the lease, you're not stuck with a huge bill and no car. Here's what you need to know about insurance options when it comes to leasing a vehicle.

Gap Insurance

Anyone who has ever leased a car without purchasing gap insurance and then had something happen to it can tell you firsthand just how important it is! Even though "GAP" officially stands for Guaranteed Asset Protection, it also got its name because it covers the "gap" between the Blue Book value of your leased car and the amount you've already paid on it if it should be totaled or stolen. For example, if you lease a $25,000 car and it is totaled three months later, you would still owe the balance of monthly payments associated with the terms of your lease, regardless of whether the vehicle is operational. Purchasing a gap insurance policy protects you in the event of a total loss or theft, meaning you would not have to pay out of pocket to cover the gap amount. 

Gap insurance should not be confused with standard auto insurance or an extended car warranty, however; it is an additional type of insurance that can be extremely helpful, but only in the event of a theft or a total loss during the terms of a lease. In other words, gap insurance can't be used to offset any charges incurred for repairs due to regular wear and tear or an accident that causes body damage but does not total the car. (We'll talk more about those types of coverage and why they are important in a minute!)

Did you already lease a new car without purchasing gap insurance from the dealership? Not to worry. It's important to remember that you can purchase gap insurance after the start of your lease date. However, the policy begins the day you purchase the insurance, so it's a good idea to get it sooner rather than later.

Full Coverage Auto Insurance

As the driver of a leased vehicle, you are required by law to carry full coverage auto insurance. This means that, in addition to liability insurance, you must have comprehensive and collision coverage in order for your gap insurance policy to pay out in the event of a theft or total loss.

Full insurance coverage is mandatory when you're leasing a car. In fact, the dealership won't even allow you to drive a vehicle off the lot without producing evidence of full-coverage auto insurance. This is so that the car dealer can protect their assets- in essence, leasing a car is like renting an apartment versus owning a house. You are making a monthly payment for the privilege of using the vehicle, but are not the owner. Because of this, the lessor reserves the right to take the car back, or more likely not give it to you at all, without proof that it is well-insured against any damage or theft. Additionally, when purchasing insurance for your leased vehicle, you are required to list the leasing company as an additional insured and loss payee- meaning that if anything should happen to the car, they, not you, will be the ones receiving the insurance check to cover the damage. 

Extended Car Warranty

Auto leases usually last between two and five years. Because of this, people who lease get to enjoy having the "new car" experience more often than they would if they purchased a vehicle instead. Being able to turn in a car before the three-year mark can also have its advantages when it comes to not having to come out of pocket for auto repairs or part replacement. While a newer vehicle certainly increases your chances of avoiding car trouble, though, it doesn't get rid of the possibility altogether. For this reason, it's a good idea to look into an extended car warranty that can help make unexpected repairs much more affordable in the long run.

Most used car buyers search for "extended auto warranties". But extended auto warranties are actually either Mechanical Breakdown Insurance (in California) or a Vehicle Service contract (in the rest of the USA). When looking at extended auto warranties, be sure to check out olive insurance solutions, as they can get a quote to you in minutes, in most cases.

Leasing a car grants you the freedom and flexibility to try new makes and models of vehicles every few years, for a significantly lower monthly payment than you would have to make if you financed the same make and model of vehicle. As long as you're able to keep your mileage low and invest in the right kinds of insurance coverage to protect yourself in a lease, you are in for a great experience!

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