Loss Payee on an Insurance Policy

Avoid Forced Placed Insurance

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The term loss payee is often used on insurance policies. In the insurance world, the loss payee is simply the person who can expect to be reimbursed by the insurance company when a claim is filed and approved. If you’re the one buying an auto policy and own your vehicle outright, the loss payee is you.

But things get tricky when lenders are involved.

A loss payee must be added to an insurance policy anytime you use collateral to secure the loan—like when you have a car, motorcycle, or home loan.

In the standard lender agreement, you must agree to carry insurance on the secured property and list the lender as the loss payee on the policy.

Lender Requirements

The loss payee should be added as soon as you buy insurance for what's covered. Proof of insurance can't be an insurance ID card. It must be a declarations page. The declarations page will have some crucial data listed for your lender:  

  • Policy effective dates
  • VIN of the vehicle insured
  • Vehicle coverage amount
  • Loss payee listed properly

If you need help for how to provide proof to satisfy your lender, your insurance agent and the lender should be more than happy to help.

Loss Payee’s Purpose

Once your lender is listed on your insurance policy as a loss payee, the lender will receive updates of your insurance policy’s status. The updates will inform the lender of all activities on your policy. When will your lender receive notifications?

  • Once the loss payee is added to the policy
  • When changes are made to the policy coverage
  • Late payment on the policy
  • Policy cancellation

The loss payee section of your policy is more than a direct link between your insurance company and the lender. Since you are not the sole owner of the collateral, claim checks will be made out to both you and the lender or directly to a repair shop. 

In the case of a total loss, the lender will be paid first. If the amount paid out by the insurance company is less than what you owe, you must pay the balance. This is where gap insurance comes in handy. If the amount paid by the insurance company is more than what is owed, you receive the remainder.

Having the lender listed as a loss payee ensures the lender will be paid for their collateral. The loss payee is a safety net for the lender to reduce loan defaults. If you do not list your lender as a loss payee, then the lender will probably put "forced placed insurance" on your collateral. This may be far more costly than your policy, so don’t risk it by letting your insurance lapse.

Forced Placed Insurance

Forced placed insurance is the result of not listing the loss payee or listing it improperly on an insurance policy. The lender has a right to protect itself. If you did not uphold your end of the loan agreement by providing proof of insurance, the lender could obtain forced placed insurance. Some things to know about forced placed insurance include:

  • It's very expensive
  • It only covers physical damage
  • You are responsible for paying for it

Key Takeaways

  • Forced placed insurance is not a good thing for you.
  • It costs a lot and provides little coverage.
  • Forced placed insurance is a lender's last resort to protect itself.
  • Get the loss payee information in place to avoid forced placed insurance.

How to Properly Add a Loss Payee

To add a loss payee, make sure you have the right address for your lender. Lenders have multiple addresses. These could be an address for payments, one for customer service, and one for insurance correspondence. Check with your lender what address they want to use for the loss payee on your insurance policy. Once you have the proper address, ask your agent or customer service representative to add your lender as a loss payee.

What's the Difference Between A Loss Payee and Additional Insured?

The difference between a loss payee and additional insured can be confusing. In short, the loss payee has more rights under the policy than an additional insured.

There may be a difference in coverage as well. Coverage extended to an additional insured is often limited in scope to liability coverage. A party identified as a loss payee would be more typically covered for property damage or loss.

Unlike an additional insured, the loss payee always gets paid first in the event of a covered loss, and it would be notified in advance should the insurer intend to cancel the policy.

When Can I Remove a Loss Payee? 

A loss payee should be removed from the policy once the loan has been paid off. The lender no longer has a stake in the collateral. If the loss payee is not removed, you will probably be required to show proof of the payoff if you have a claim on your insurance policy. This can be a hassle and is easily prevented by calling your insurance agent or representative as soon as you pay off your loan.

Knowing the importance of the loss payee should convince you to take your lender's notices seriously. Forced placed insurance is not a path you want to go down. Add your lender as a loss payee to your policy as soon as possible.