Thursday, April 24, 2014

Consumer tip: Don’t toss notices from your lenders

If you get a notice in the mail from one of your lenders – whether it be auto, boat, home or any other item you are paying for with a loan – make sure you read it. Lenders can require you to prove the item they’ve paid for is insured against damage or loss with an auto, homeowner or other applicable policy.

If you fail to prove the item is insured, the lender has the right to apply its own insurance policy, called “force placed” or “vendor’s single interest (VSI),” to your loan. The policy doesn’t protect you against property loss or liability—its sole function is to pay the lender the loan balance if you default on the loan. These policies are very expensive, they are added to your loan balance and you pay interest on them. One consumer was charged $2,680 for a policy on a $15,000 loan—that’s nearly 18 percent of the loan, not counting the interest the consumer paid.

The good news is that lenders typically allow you to drop the policy once you prove you have your own insurance on the item.

Don’t get stuck with a huge insurance cost that could have been prevented. When you get notices in the mail from a lender, read them. 

If you have questions, contact our consumer advocates at 1-800-562-6900 or through our website.