Shuman Roy is an entrepreneur, business owner, and musician. He started RoysNoys, LLC in 2013 as a music production and education service company. He also offers small business consulting and advisory services to help businesses get from start-up mode to turn-key operations. Shuman earned his M.B.A from the Stern School of Business in 2001 and has an undergraduate degree from Manhattan College in ...

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Content Writer & Entrepreneur Shuman Roy

Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Joel...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: Jun 28, 2022

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Unless you can afford to purchase your home or car outright, you’ll need to obtain financing to pay for it (this includes leased vehicles as well).

The Bank Is the Loss Payee or Lien holder

The bank or financial institution that lent you the money is referred to as a “lien holder” or “loss payee” on an insurance policy.

When you borrow money for a home or a car, the person or institution that provided the financing holds the title until the loan is paid back in its entirety.

In effect, you can live in the house or drive the car, but you do not own it outright until the loan is actually paid off.

The lienholder/loss payee is the person or organization whose name is listed first on the check from an insurance company in the event of a physical damage claim.

If a lender is endorsed as a loss payee on a policy and there is covered loss that happens in which the insured is entitled to a payment, both the insured and the lender would be listed on the check.

Again, this is because they are the actual owners of the property until the loan is paid in full.

If you finance a car, the lienholder may be listed on your car’s title and auto insurance policy until the loan is paid off. The lienholder has interest in your property until you pay it off. The financial institution holds a lien or legal claim on the property because they lent you money for the purchase. The lien guarantees the lender that they will receive a payment for the loan.

Moreover, if you have a lien on your car, lienholders may require you to get specific coverage to protect their investment such as comprehensive coverage and collision coverage. Comprehensive insurance will pay for repair costs if the car is damaged by things such as fire, theft, vandalism, or natural disasters. Collision insurance will pay the cost of repairs if the car is damaged in a collision with another vehicle or object.

When you pay off your car loan, your agent can remove the lienholder’s name from your policy.

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Finance Company Will Require Physical Damage Coverage

In order to qualify for a mortgage or a loan, the bank or mortgage company will require that you at least have physical damage coverage.  This is to protect their “interest” in their property.

Remember, liability-only insurance, which covers you for injury to other people and/or damage to the property of others, is already mandatory in almost every state in the country.

However, physical damage coverage for your vehicle is not a requirement by law in any state, mainly because your risk appetite is your prerogative (assuming you own outright).

Let’s Look at an Example

So let’s look at an example to illustrate why a lienholder or loss payee is listed as a named insured in an insurance policy.

Say you get a $20,000 loan to finance a pre-owned vehicle.  One month after the purchase, you get into an accident that completely destroys the car (or it is stolen and not recovered).

If the vehicle wasn’t insured for at least the amount of the associated loan, you would be stuck with a outstanding balance and no car.

Obviously, you would have no motivation to pay off the loan and probably wouldn’t end up doing so.

That’s where physical damage coverage comes in; you have two options if your car is totaled, lost, or stolen.

You can elect to have your car replaced with a similar, new car and continue to pay the original loan to the bank.

Or you can ask that the insurance company pay off the loan and relieve you of your obligation to pay the loan back and give up your car in the process.

The latter is often a motivation for insurance fraud when people no longer want to  pay for a car loan they don’t want/can’t afford.