It is a sad fact that as soon as you purchase your new car and drive away, it begins to decrease in value.
In fact, the reality of car depreciation rates are quite shocking. Lease Car estimate that typically, a new car will lose 50-60% of its market value after only three years of ownership (assuming that it's travelling at the average of 10,000 miles per year).
So, what happens if your car is stolen or written off, and how can you ensure that you will get your money back?
Official figures show that 845,000 vehicle-related thefts were recorded in England and Wales from July 2016 to June 2017. This is where GAP Insurance – or Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) Insurance, to give it its full name - comes in.
GAP, or Guaranteed Asset Protection Insurance, saves you from losing money if your car gets stolen or written off. In the event that your vehicle is considered a ‘total loss’, your insurer will ordinarily only cover the current value of your car, meaning that you may lose out if your vehicle has depreciated in value.
However, there are a number of policies that you can purchase to avoid feeling the pinch in your pocket.
GAP Insurance is useful for every car owner, however it is especially recommended if:
This policy pays out enough to cover the cost of a like-for-like replacement vehicle in the event that your car is stolen or written off. The difference between the insurance pay-out and the cost of a new vehicle will be calculated. This vehicle must be the exact same model, make and specification as your car.
Return to invoice and financial shortfall protection
This would cover the difference between your motor insurer’s settlement and the invoice price provided (including any interest charges and early settlement charges for your finance agreement) in the event that your car is written off or stolen.
Return to value
This is similar to Return to Invoice; however, this ensures that you receive the difference between your insurance pay-out and the value of your car when you originally took out cover.
Guaranteed Asset Protection Insurance can be purchased from your car dealer, however, often this is more expensive. It is recommended that you buy it separately once you have purchased your vehicle.
The Financial Conduct Authority regulate the use of Guaranteed Asset Protection Insurance in the automotive industry. If you have any problems, complaints or queries, you should contact the Financial Ombudsmen Service.
Before you take out car GAP insurance, there are a few things you should consider.
Can you afford the premium?
It’s all well and good covering yourself in the event of a write-off or theft, but consider whether you can afford to pay out for it. Price your car repayments – if you have finance – and get a GAP insurance quote first, and then consider it. If you have car finance left to settle, Guaranteed Asset Protection Insurance might be the right investment.
On the other hand, if you don’t mind receiving the equivalent of your car when it’s written off then you could skip this insurance entirely. It's important to weigh up the GAP Insurance cost against the benefits.
Check what’s covered
Make sure you’re aware of what’s covered if you do opt for cover. Ask how the insurer calculates the value of your car, look at the exclusions and be aware of any terms that may mean the cover isn’t what you expect.
Can the policy be transferred?
In the event you sell your car, you take the policy with you and apply it to your next vehicle.