What is the Hyundai Assurance program?
In deference to the current economic situation, also known as the Great Wallet Lightener of 2009, Hyundai has decided that anyone who leases or finances one of their vehicles will have the option to return it and walk away from any financial obligations in the case of a life changing event within the first 12 months of purchase.
Pictured: Hyundai Veracruz
All photos courtesy of Hyundai
Life changing event? Like my wife has octuplets and we need a school bus instead of a sedan?
Not quite; Hyundai is pretty specific about what situations will be honored. They are: Involuntary unemployment, physical disability, loss of driver's license due to medical impairment, international employment transfer, self-employed personal bankruptcy, accidental death. If you manage to hit all six items, i.e. the Bad Luck Jackpot, the car is yours to keep. (Just kidding)
Pictured: Hyundai Tiburon
So I buy a Hyundai, and then I lose my job; I can just turn the car in?
Well if you feel that it's going to be difficult to continue making payments on whatever vehicle it is you purchased, simply file a request for benefit with the Hyundai Assurance Administrator who will facilitate the process.
Pictured: Hyundai Elantra
That's it? I just call them up and say, "Hey, coming by the dealership, where do I drop off the keys?"
You must have made at least two scheduled payments and be current on your loan or lease in order to qualify for the benefit approval. Hyundai will then estimate the value of the car to determine if you owe any additional balance amounts when you turn the car in.
Pictured: Hyundai Accent
Woah, what do you mean, "additional balance amounts?"
Slow down chief, this isn't some fine print to get more money out of you. Hyundai will cover up to $7,500 in negative equity on the car you turn in, anything above that is on you to cover as an additional balance amount.
Pictured: Hyundai Azera
Not quite sure I follow, what is "negative equity"?
It's what this country is swimming in! Kidding. Say you still owe $15,000 on your Hyundai when you decide to turn it in; if they value it at $10,000, it has $5,000 in negative equity. That's under the $7,500 limit, so you owe nothing. The chances of the car depreciating by more than $7,500 in the first 12 months is not likely.
Pictured: Hyundai Santa Fe
Got it. But if I have to turn it in, doesn't that severely impact my credit?
That's the beauty of this program; you aren't technically defaulting on the payment, so no harm is done to your credit score. That way you'll be the one eating lobster in the FreeCreditReport.com commercial, and not the idiot with the guitar and the eye patch.
Pictured: Hyundai Entourage
What if I lose my job, don't think I can make payments in the meantime, but do think I can get another job in a couple months?
Hyundai has actually thought of that, and recently introduced the Hyundai Assurance Program Plus. If you lose your job, they will make your payments for three months, and after those three months if you have a job you can keep the car with no obligation to pay them back. If you still don't have a job, you can turn the car in per the normal Assurance process.
Pictured: Hyundai Genesis
How do they know I've gone through a life changing event?
Well besides the fact that you're a bit moodier than usual, all their program qualifiers have documentable evidence attached to them, from unemployment benefit papers to state license revocation notices. Hyundai has really tried to make it as easy as possible for you to go through with this process if needed.
Pictured: Hyundai Sonata
So what does Hyundai get out of this?
Let's see, in one of the worst automotive markets in decades, Hyundai managed to sell 14% more vehicles year-over-year in January after rolling out this program. Basically Hyundai is using this program as a way of making buyers feel more confident about purchasing a car.
Pictured: Hyundai Tucson
Can I expect to see this type of program from any other manufacturer besides Hyundai?
We've been told by the company administering the Hyundai Assurance Program that they've received many phone calls from other manufacturers interested in implementing a similar type of program, so it wouldn't surprise us if you did.
Pictured: Hyundai Genesis Coupe
Not everyone is worried about their job.
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Photo Credit: Splash News