IRVING, Texas — Walkaway USA has unveiled what it calls a one-of-a-kind vehicle return program dubbed Protection for Automotive Financing designed to cover the credit union marketplace.

The program provides credit union members with protection against negative equity, allowing them to walk away from their vehicle loan or lease in the event of life-changing circumstances, such as involuntary unemployment, loss of driver's license due to medical impairment, international employment transfer, self-employed personal bankruptcy, and total loss protection, officials explained.

Walkaway said it offers a complimentary 12-month vehicle return program on every financed or leased vehicle up to $100,000 at no cost to the member regardless of age, health or employment status.

Members also have the option to extend the complimentary program to full-term coverage, up to 84 months, with extended coverage levels such as GAP.

"We are pleased to offer this new program to credit unions," explained Jeff Beaver, president of Walkaway USA. "Walkaway is one of the most innovative products to hit the auto-finance marketplace. It provides lenders with a true point of differentiation and also opens up new opportunities to increase loan volume, generate non-interest income and drive consumer loyalty and retention."

Beaver went on to say, "Under normal circumstances, these events often lead to long-term payment delinquencies and vehicle repossessions. Consumers with Walkaway Protection, however, avoid these outcomes by returning their vehicle while preserving their credit rating in the process."

Since its introduction in Canada in 2000, Walkaway said it has made it possible for consumers to walk away from more than $23 million in automotive-related debt and has provided its retailers with a competitive sales advantage.