Your car loan is finally paid off. Congratulations! Paying off your car loan is a momentous occasion, but can it save you money on car insurance?
Unfortunately, no, paying off your auto loan doesn’t reduce your insurance rates, but it does give you more control over the type and amount of coverage you have, which can help you save money on your insurance.
I paid off my car loan. Now what happens to my insurance?
Once your car loan is paid off, your first call should be to your insurance company. When you had a loan, your lender was listed on your insurance policy as a lienholder. If your car was totaled, your lienholder would get reimbursed by your insurance company before you got a check for any remaining part of the payment. Now that you no longer have a lienholder, it is important to remove them from your insurance policy.
After your lienholder has been removed from your policy, you can review the coverage with your insurance agent to make sure it still meets your needs — for example, you may want to increase your deductible. Don’t be surprised, however, when your insurance rates don’t go down just because you paid off your car loan.
How can I get cheaper insurance now that my car is paid off?
Car insurance rates don’t automatically go down when you pay off your car, but you can still save money on your car insurance by making some changes now that you no longer have a payment due.
1. Update deductible amounts
Lienholders typically require drivers to have full coverage (meaning comprehensive and collision coverage) with deductibles no higher than $500, though this amount can change from company to company. Once you no longer have a car loan, you can choose to increase your deductibles to lower your annual insurance rate.
Keep in mind that a higher deductible means you are responsible for paying more out-of-pocket for a claim, so if you can’t afford to pay $1,000 for a car repair you shouldn’t raise your deductibles to $1,000.
2. Cancel unnecessary coverages
There are some coverages that you may not need once you pay off your car loan. For example, gap insurance is coverage that pays off the difference between your car loan and the amount you get from your insurance company in the event of a total loss. Now that you no longer have a loan, you no longer need to pay for gap insurance.
Mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI) is coverage that can help pay to fix your car if you have an unexpected repair after your warranty expires. This could be valuable, but it typically isn’t available for vehicles that are more than a few years old or have 100,000 miles or more. If you’ve had your car for more than a couple of years, it might be worth thinking about whether or not MBI is useful to you now that your loan has been paid off.
If my car is paid off do I still need comprehensive and collision coverage?
Technically no, once you no longer have a loan on your car you don’t have to carry comprehensive or collision coverage. However, depending on your financial situation and the value of your vehicle, you may want to keep your comprehensive and collision coverage to make sure you are protected financially.
Collision insurance provides coverage if:
You are in a collision with a stationary object, like a tree or a telephone pole
You are in a single-car accident where your car rolled or tipped over
You are in a collision with another vehicle and it was your fault
You are in a collision with another vehicle and they were at fault, but they are uninsured or underinsured
Comprehensive insurance provides coverage if:
Your car is stolen
Your car is damaged by vandalism, fire, or riots
Your car is damaged by falling objects (rocks, tree limbs, etc.)
Your car is damaged in a storm (hail, wind, floods, lightning, earthquakes, etc.)
Your car is damaged by an animal (hitting a deer, rodents chewing through wiring, etc.)
Your car has windshield or glass damage
If you aren’t financially prepared to pay to repair or replace your car in the situations listed above, you should keep your comprehensive and collision coverage in place.
Do I get a gap insurance refund if my car is paid off?
Gap insurance refunds are only available for policies that were paid in full up-front and the refund is only for time you’ve paid for but no longer need because your loan has been paid off. Drivers don’t get refunds just because they never filed a gap insurance claim.
If you think you are owed a refund for an overpayment of gap insurance, reach out to your insurance agent so they can help you get any money you are owed.