On June 12, Maine Governor Paul LePage signed into law S.P. 531, “An Act To Amend the Usage and Consumer Protections of Guaranteed Asset Protection [GAP] Waivers.” The Act applies to finance agreements for motor vehicles in which the creditor offers, for a separate charge, to “cancel or waive all or part of the amount due on a borrower’s finance agreement . . . in the event of a total physical damage loss or unrecovered theft.” The GAP waiver agreement must either be included in the auto finance agreement or attached to it as an addendum, and the waiver remains part of the finance contract when the contract is assigned, sold, or transferred. Additionally, the Act provides that the waiver may be sold in the state for a single or monthly payment, but “may not be considered a finance charge or interest” when disclosed in compliance with the Truth in Lending Act.
A required disclosure with a GAP waiver is a “free-look” period during which the borrower can cancel the waiver agreement and receive a full refund of costs paid for the waiver as long as no waiver benefits have been provided. The waiver contract must also provide clear instructions for the borrower to follow in order to obtain waiver benefits, and the method for calculating the amount of the refund due if the contract is cancelled or terminated early.
The law takes effect on January 1, 2018.