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On September 13, the California governor signed AB 2311, which amends provisions regarding vehicle finance disclosures. The bill establishes provisions to govern the offer, sale, provision, or administration, in connection with a conditional sale contract, of a guaranteed asset protection waiver (GAP waiver). Specifically, the bill requires creditors to automatically refund the unearned portion of a GAP waiver if a consumer pays off or otherwise terminates their auto loan early. The bill prohibits: (i) conditioning the extension of credit, the term of credit, or the terms of a conditional sale contract upon the purchase of a GAP waiver; and (ii) the sale of a GAP waiver pursuant to certain provisions where the loan-to-value ratio exceeds the maximum loan-to-value ratio of the GAP waiver. The bill, among other things, authorizes the buyer to recover three times the amount of any GAP charges paid. The bill is effective January 1, 2023.
On September 1, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California determined that certain claims could proceed in a suit alleging a national bank failed to properly refund payments made pursuant to guaranteed asset protection (GAP) waiver agreements entered into in connection with auto loans. According to the plaintiffs’ suit, the bank knowingly collected unearned fees for GAP Waivers and “concealed its obligation to issue a refund on the GAP Waiver fees for the portion of the GAP Waiver’s initial coverage that was cut short by early payoff, and denied any obligation to return the unearned GAP fees.” The bank sought dismissal of the suit, arguing, among other things, that—with the exception of one consumer’s claims—all of the plaintiffs’ contracts include “a condition precedent under which the [p]laintiffs must first submit a written refund request for unearned GAP fees before being entitled to a refund,” which condition was not fulfilled.
The court dismissed breach of contract claims brought by eight of the 11 plaintiffs, noting that seven of these plaintiffs were not excused from complying with the condition precedent in their contracts with the bank, and had not pled sufficient facts to allege compliance; the court held that the eighth plaintiff’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations. The court allowed the breach of contract claims filed by two plaintiffs whose contracts did not contain condition precedent language to proceed, and allowed the final plaintiff’s breach of contract claim to proceed because the bank did not move to dismiss such. The court kept the declaratory judgment requests intact for the three plaintiffs whose contract claims were allowed to proceed, but determined such plaintiffs could not assert standing under laws of states where they do not reside and did not receive an injury. Further, the court granted the bank’s request to dismiss TILA claims—noting that the statute does not apply to indirect auto lenders like the bank—and tossed claims brought under California’s Unfair Competition Law.
The bank also asked the court to strike the six class action claims included in the plaintiffs’ first amended complaint. However, the court denied the bank’s request to strike the plaintiffs’ nationwide class allegations calling it premature. “Deciding whether the alleged classes can be maintained is properly done on a motion for class certification because at that point ‘the parties have had an opportunity to conduct class discovery and develop a record,’” the court noted.
On May 24, the Oregon governor signed SB 366, which repealed the sunset provision on statutes establishing the conditions under which creditors can offer guaranteed asset protection (GAP) waivers in connection with the sale of an automobile. Chapter 523, Oregon Laws 2015 allows creditors to offer GAP waivers to consumers outside of the regulation of the Insurance Code while specifying certain requirements for offering the waivers. Section 11 of Chapter 523, would have repealed these GAP waiver provisions on January 2, 2020. The bill repeals Section 11, allowing for the GAP waiver provisions to remain in effect. The bill is effective January 1, 2020.
On May 19, the Office of the State Bank Commissioner of Kansas published in the Kansas Register an amended Administrative Interpretation No. 1004 covering Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP). In general, the interpretation provides guidance for creditors to follow to exclude the cost of GAP waiver agreements from the calculation of the finance charge with consumer credit sales and closed-end consumer loans pursuant to the Uniform Consumer Credit Code. The revision amends paragraph 3(g) of the interpretation, which requires clear disclosure on how to contact the GAP provider in connection with claims for GAP coverage. Paragraph 3(g) states that the information must be written in bold font and the word “claims” must be bolded and underlined. Additionally, the form must also advise Kansas consumers that they can contact the Kansas Office of State Bank Commissioner with complaints about their GAP waiver agreement. The revised interpretation was effective on May 15.
On April 22, the Arizona governor signed HB 2674, a bill defining the term “guaranteed asset protection waivers” (GAP waivers) and clarifying that GAP waivers are not insurance and are thus exempt from the state’s insurance laws. The Act is effective 90 days after the state’s legislative session adjourns sine die.
On April 8, the Arkansas governor signed HB 1672, which provides a framework within which guaranteed asset protection (GAP) waivers may be offered in the state. Among other provisions, the act (i) clarifies that GAP waivers are not insurance and are exempt from the state’s insurance laws; (ii) states that persons who market, sell, or offer GAP waivers are exempt from Arkansas’ licensing requirements, provided they comply with the act; (iii) establishes requirements for offering GAP waivers and clarifies that any cost to the borrower for the sale of a GAP waiver, in compliance with TILA, should not be considered a finance charge or interest; (iv) states that neither the extension of credit, nor the sale or lease terms of a motor vehicle, “may be conditioned upon the purchase of a [GAP] waiver;” and (v) clarifies contractual liability coverage, disclosure requirements, and requirements and restrictions for GAP waiver cancellations, including refund provisions. HB 1672 further stipulates that the state’s insurance commissioner may enforce the act’s provisions and impose penalties. The act takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the legislature.
On March 21, the Virginia governor signed SB 1325, which provides a framework within which guaranteed asset protection (GAP) waivers may be offered in the state. Among other provisions, the act (i) clarifies that any cost to the borrower for the sale of a GAP waiver, in compliance with TILA, should not be considered a finance charge or interest; (ii) states that neither the extension of credit nor the sale or lease of a motor vehicle “may be conditioned upon the purchase of a GAP waiver;” (iii) requires creditors to comply with GAP waiver obligations; (iv) requires a GAP waiver to include disclosures regarding the cancellation of the GAP waiver during a free look period; and (v) establishes requirements and restrictions for GAP waiver cancellations, including refund provisions. The act also provides that GAP waivers are not insurance and are exempt from Virginia's licensing requirements. The act is effective July 1.
Separately, on March 20, the North Dakota governor signed HB 1181, which clarifies that GAP waivers effective on or after August 1 are not insurance and are exempt from the state’s insurance laws. Among other things, the act also (i) clarifies contractual liability coverage; (ii) outlines required disclosures that must be stipulated with the sale of a GAP waiver; and (iii) specifies GAP waiver cancellation conditions and refund provisions.
On March 28, HB 4186, which amends the Code of West Virginia by adding a section related to guaranteed asset protection waivers (GAP waivers), became law without the governor’s signature. Among other things, HB 4186 clarifies that GAP waivers are not insurance, and that GAP waivers issued after the bill’s effective date are exempt from West Virginia insurance laws. The bill also (i) specifies terms and conditions when offering GAP waivers; (ii) provides requirements for offering GAP waivers, including “contractual liability” obligations, certain disclosures, and cancellation/non-cancellation terms; and (iii) outlines exemptions, such as commercial transactions and GAP waivers sold or issued by federally regulated depository institutions. Additionally, HB 4186 clarifies the procedures a borrower must follow to activate benefits under a GAP waiver. The bill will apply to all GAP waivers in effect on or after July 1.
On March 28, the Wisconsin governor signed Assembly Bill 663 (AB 663), which amends statutes related to GAP waivers sold in connection with the credit sale or lease of a vehicle. Among other things, AB 663 prohibits creditors from requiring borrowers to purchase GAP waivers and requires creditors to provide written disclosures to borrowers prior to, or at the time of execution, which include that (i) the purchase of a GAP waiver is optional; (iii) outlines the costs and terms; and (iii) specifies procedures borrowers are required to follow to receive GAP waiver benefits. AB 663 also addresses cancellation provisions for borrowers. Furthermore, the bill clarifies that GAP waivers are not insurance and that any cost to a borrower must be separately stated as part of the finance agreement and cannot be considered a finance charge or interest. AB 663 becomes effective September 1.
Finally, on March 26, the Mississippi governor signed SB 2929, which clarifies that GAP waivers are not insurance and are therefore exempt from Mississippi insurance laws. Provisions promulgated under SB 2929 provide a framework for which GAP waivers may be offered to borrowers in the state and include (i) requirements for contractual liability and other policies to insure a GAP waiver; (ii) disclosure requirements; and (iii) cancellation policies for GAP waivers and procedures for borrowers to obtain a refund in the instance of cancellation or early termination. Similar to Wisconsin AB 663, any cost to a borrower associated with a GAP waiver must be separately stated as part of the finance agreement and cannot be considered a finance charge or interest. The act takes effect July 1.
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