What Is a Payment Protection Plan?

A payment protection plan is an optional service offered by some credit card companies and lenders that lets a customer stop making minimum monthly payments on a loan or credit card balance during a period of involuntary unemployment or disability. It may also cancel the balance owed if the borrower dies. Payment protection plans charge the customer a small, recurring monthly fee based on the amount borrowed and the conditions covered.

Understanding Payment Protection Plans

Payment protection plans have eligibility requirements, conditions, and exclusions that customers should ensure they understand before signing up. You don’t want to pay for protection month after month only to find out that your plan doesn’t cover a specific situation when you want to use your coverage. The fine print is available in the payment protection plan agreement and disclosures, which you should be able to access from the lender’s or creditor’s website.

Key Takeaways

  • A payment protection plan is sometimes offered by credit card companies and other lenders.
  • In exchange for a small recurring fee, borrowers can stop making payments if involuntarily unemployed or disabled.
  • Some payment protection plans will cancel any balances owed in the event of death.
  • Although monthly fees for payment protection plans are relatively small, plans often have conditions and exclusions.
  • Rather than buying payment protection plans, it often makes more sense to buy disability and life insurance instead.

Here are some examples of the conditions you might have to meet to take advantage of your payment protection plan’s coverage if you become disabled:

  • You’ll have to be under a doctor’s care for an accident or injury that makes you unable to work in any job you’re qualified for, not just the job you normally work at.
  • You’ll need to have been working for several months at the time you signed up for the payment protection plan.
  • Your disability must have lasted for more than 30 consecutive days before payment protection will become active.
  • If you qualify to take advantage of the coverage you’ve paid for, it will only last for a limited amount of time, such as 12 months, even if your disability extends beyond that period, and it will only cover a limited dollar amount specified in the agreement.

Example of Payment Protection Plan

A payment protection plan that covers the loss of life, involuntary unemployment, and disability might cost $0.35 per month for every $1,000 borrowed. If, for instance, you signed up for this payment protection plan to cover your $20,000 automobile loan, your monthly fee would be calculated as $20,000 divided by $1,000 multiplied by $0.35, which equals $7.00.

Although the fee might seem small relative to the loan balance, consumers may be better off foregoing these plans and putting the money they would have spent on them in an emergency fund instead. That's because payment protection plans have so many conditions and exclusions. Another good use of the money would be to purchase long-term disability insurance and term life insurance, which are widely considered to be the best sources of financial assistance for individuals and their dependents in the event of disability or death.