OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Assemblymember Brian Maienschein today announced Assembly Bill 2311 (AB 2311), which will establish a number of new protections for car buyers. AB 2311 addresses the sale and administration of guaranteed asset protection (GAP) waivers, a costly add-on product of little value to consumers that is often sold by car dealers along with auto loans and is generally targeted at consumers with lower incomes and subprime credit. Authored by Assemblymember Maienschein and sponsored by Attorney General Bonta, AB 2311 will require creditors to automatically refund the unearned portion of a GAP waiver if a consumer pays off or otherwise terminates their auto loan early, among other protections.
“When Californians walk into a dealership to buy a car, they should feel confident that they’re not getting ripped off,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Unfortunately, auto dealers often play off our anxieties around making this big purchase, convincing us to add on unnecessary products for hundreds of additional dollars. Paying off your auto loan is hard enough without these junk products tacked on. I am proud to sponsor AB 2311 to strengthen California's consumer protection laws and prevent vulnerable car buyers from being taken advantage of.”
“Despite their name, GAP waivers hardly provide the bare minimum protections for the car buyer,” said Assemblymember Maienschein. “This bill will ensure that car buyers are covered through stricter consumer protection laws, helping them avoid this costly add-on when unnecessary.”
GAP waivers provide car buyers with minimal protections: providing that if their car is wrecked or stolen, the creditor must waive the portion of the auto loan, if any, that exceeds the value of the vehicle. For most consumers, GAP waivers are a bad deal, making sense only if they are already underwater on their loan. Consumers make a one-time, up-front payment often ranging from $400 to $700 for GAP coverage that is typically financed at a high interest rate, burying consumers in additional, often avoidable debt. Currently, California law does not specifically address the rights and responsibilities of consumers and sellers in the sale and administration of these products, opening the door to unfair practices and limiting competition.
If signed into law, AB 2311 would strengthen protections for car buyers by: