On Your Side: Is GAP insurance for your car worth it?

It’s been seven months since a garage collapse at a condo community in Dallas and at least one car owner whose vehicle was crushed is still trying to figure out how to get back on the road.

The parking garage at the Renaissance on Turtle Creek has been repaired after it came crashing down seven floors last October.

Julie Matusz’s 2005 Infinity was crushed during the garage’s collapse. Since she was a registered guest of the building, those who ran the Renaissance said they did what they could. Matusz was provided a rental car to use while her car was still trapped inside.

“Once extracted, their view was now you take over with whatever happens.  So return our rental car within 24 hours,” said Matusz. “A garage collapsed on top of my car.  Obviously, it's not my fault.  My hope was whoever caused this would take care of that.”

The insurance policy for the building didn't cover registered guests. Matusz’s own policy didn't cover her negative equity.

“Apparently I didn't have a premium policy or something to that effect so they just cover cash value, which is similar to KBB which is way below what your average person would owe on your loan,” explained Matusz.

After insurance, she was left upside down $10,000. An option Matusz didn't exercise when she bought her car was GAP insurance.

“It basically takes care of the gap between what you owe on your vehicle and the value of your vehicle,” said Norma Martinez with Resource One Credit Union. “She would have had a big relief there.”

We found it for as little as $400 bucks. Having it would have paid out up to 150 percent of the value of Matusz’s car.

Instead, she was left to file a claim with the insurance company for Reconstruction Experts. They were the contractor who piled construction debris on the garage while renovating the pool at the Renaissance. That dirt pile is thought to have caused the collapse.

Matusz’s attorney issued a demand letter but says Reconstruction Experts never responded. However, they did respond to FOX 4.

When we contacted to contractor on Matusz’s behalf, they did some digging and discovered the letter had been overlooked.

“I was told there would be a lengthy legal battle before this is decided,” said Matusz. “The problem is none of the claimants are going to be paid until then.”

And despite Matusz’s concern, we were assured her claim would be handled independently of any larger legal battle over damage to the building. They are now working with her attorney to reach a resolution.

“I really feel like the right thing to do would be to say, 'You know what? You're a valued guest of one of our residents, and regardless of whether it was us or one of our contractors, we're gonna take care of you right now,’” said Matusz. “It's the right thing to do.”

Right or wrong, it's not the responsibility of the Renaissance to take care of. As a guest, Matusz’s crushed car isn't covered by the building's insurance. While GAP insurance wouldn't have completely paid off her loan, it would have paid out thousands of dollars.

Keep in mind when shopping for it, we found prices varied greatly. Be sure to ask up front as it is purchased through the lender who finances your loan.

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