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Gap Insurance Refund | How Does It Work?

Written by Marc Guberti

Marc Guberti is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor who has been a finance freelance writer
for five years. He has covered personal finance, investing, banking, credit cards, business
financing, and other topics.
Marc’s work has appeared in US News & World Report, USA Today, Investor Place, and other
publications. He graduated from Fordham University with a finance degree and resides in
Scarsdale, New York.
When he’s not writing, Marc enjoys spending time with the family and watching movies with
them (mostly from the 1930s and 40s). Marc is an avid runner who aims to run over 100
marathons in his lifetime.

Updated January 1, 2024​

5 min. read​

gap insurance refund

You never know if your car will get stolen or totaled. While either of these scenarios would be unfortunate, the lender or car dealership will still want their money. A car insurance policy will cover the car’s value, but cars depreciate every year. This depreciation can result in a gap between the car’s value and the remaining balance on your loan. For example, if your car is now worth $25,000, but you have a $30,000 loan, you have a $5,000 gap.

Gap insurance covers this difference in case something bad happens to your vehicle. You pay a premium to add an extra level of safety, but after paying off your loan, you no longer need this protection. Depending on when you pay off your auto loan, you can qualify for a gap insurance refund.

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What is a Gap Insurance Refund?

A gap insurance refund is the money you receive from unused months of your insurance policy. Many insurance holders make annual payments for their policies. However, some borrowers fully repay the loan halfway into the year and no longer need the gap insurance.

The gap insurance applied for the first six months since you still took advantage of that protection. However, you don’t have to pay gap insurance for the remaining six months if you no longer have a loan balance. You can request a refund since gap insurance no longer applies and receive a prorated premium based on how many months you didn’t use. A gap insurance refund lowers the cost of owning a vehicle. You can also lower your cost with an auto loan refinance and other strategies.

How Do Gap Insurance Refunds Work?

Gap insurance refunds let you tap into premium payments from unused months. Unfortunately, you won’t get a refund on the insurance premiums you paid when there is a gap between your car’s value and the loan’s balance. Instead, you will have to contact your insurance company after fully paying off the loan to receive your refund.

Some borrowers also get a gap insurance refund by switching to a different insurer or canceling gap insurance altogether if they can. However, if you do this, you will only get refunded a prorated premium based on the time you did not use instead of every premium payment to date.

Is a Gap Insurance Refund for You?

A gap insurance refund applies to borrowers who pay premiums in advance instead of making monthly payments. You will no longer have the protection to cover the difference between your car’s value and the loan’s balance, but not everyone needs or wants that protection. Some car dealerships will require you to pay gap insurance, but you don’t need this policy if you get an auto loan. Some people ask for a refund even when they still have a gap to avoid paying any extra for a policy they may never use.

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When To Cancel Your Gap Insurance and Get a Refund

Are you wondering if now is a good time to cancel your gap insurance? These are some optimal times to cancel the policy.

You’re Leasing, Selling, or Trading Your Car

When you lease, sell, or trade your vehicle, you won’t own it for long. It doesn’t make sense to continue paying for gap insurance when the keys will soon swap hands. You can cancel the remaining months on your gap insurance policy after the car leaves your possession. There’s no reason to continue making premium payments when you no longer own the vehicle.

If you want to keep your vehicle and lower your costs, you can opt for a vehicle refinance loan. This loan can reduce your monthly payments and even provide you with some extra cash. Some people also use auto refinance loans to capitalize on lower interest rates.

You’re Paying Off Your Car Loan

Gap insurance is only valuable if a gap exists. However, if you pay your loan on time and cut it down sooner, the gap will get narrower and soon not exist. Therefore, a narrow gap may not justify gap insurance, especially if you can use available premiums to close the gap between the loan amount and your car’s value.

You’re Switching to a Different Gap Insurance Provider

Some drivers get frustrated with their insurance provider or prefer a cheaper solution. Make sure you request a refund during the process of making the switch. You don’t want to end up paying for two insurance policies when you will only use one of them if something happens to your vehicle. You may also need to get an insurer that covers basic car insurance if the same insurer handles all of your policies.

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If the Loan Amount Left Is Less Than Your Car’s Current Worth

In this scenario, you do not have a gap between your loan and the car’s value. The insurance policy would offer no additional protections and is a waste of money. Get the refund, and use the proceeds to trim down your loan further.

How Much Can You Get?

Requesting a gap insurance refund can help you save money. These factors influence how much you can get.

Value of the Car

A more valuable car will result in higher premiums. You might need gap insurance if you get a lease from a dealer. If you buy the vehicle after your lease, you will no longer need the gap insurance and can get a refund on the remaining premiums.

Loan Amount

A high loan amount will create a wider gap in the future. As a result, insurers may charge higher premiums to compensate for higher loan amounts, but it also increases your refund amount.

Car’s Mileage

A car with less mileage is more valuable and reduces the insurer’s risk, resulting in lower premiums. You won’t get as much money back during a refund, but you will also pay less per month.

Loan Repayment Period

The sooner you repay the loan, the more money you will receive from a gap insurance refund. Paying the loan back in 12 months instead of 18 months gives you an extra six months of premium refunds.

How To Calculate Your Gap Insurance Refund

Car and motorcycle owners seeking to save money can calculate their gap insurance refund by reviewing how far they paid in advance and how much remains on the loan. If you take out a 24-month loan and pay it in 20 months, you can receive a gap insurance refund equal to four monthly premium payments. You can take the advance payment and calculate the average monthly premium to determine the refund amount.

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How to Get a Gap Insurance Refund

A Gap insurance refund provides you with extra cash, but not every insurance company will automatically provide you with a refund. Follow these steps to get the money you deserve.

Prepare the Necessary Requirements

You will have to approach your insurer with several documents demonstrating your loan has been paid off or you intend to switch to another insurance company. Here are some documents you will need:

  • Verified odometer reading
  • Vehicle purchase agreement
  • Loan payoff letter (if applicable)
  • Information about your new insurer (if applicable)

Contact Your Agent or Insurance Provider

Inform your insurance company that you want a refund on the remaining gap insurance premiums. The agent or provider will guide you through the process.

Fill Out the Paperwork for Cancellation

The insurer will provide you with paperwork to fill out and verify the cancellation. You will have to fill this out on your own.

Submit To Your Insurance Provider

After completing the paperwork, send the documents to your insurance provider. They will handle everything on the backend and provide your refund.

How Long Before You Get Your Gap Insurance Refund?

Most insurance companies will give you a full refund within a few weeks, but you should ask your agent for an estimated timeline. Having this information will help you know when to follow up if you believe it’s taking longer than it should to receive your gap insurance refund.

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