"These guys just don't deserve to have that choice [taken] away from them, especially when it's one product that protects them at a reasonable cost," Kellum said. "That affects them every day, every month, their household, their income."
Bill Himpler, president-elect of the American Financial Services Association, which represents lenders, said the White House is paying attention to the controversy. Still, "you do have a lot of changing personnel at the White House, at [the Office of Management and Budget] and at the Pentagon that has kind of complicated things," he said.
At one point, it was widely thought the Defense Department would release an amended interpretation in May 2018. But more than a year after the interpretation was published, nothing has changed.
Don Hall, CEO of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association and a former Marine, said he is "outraged" the situation is lingering.
"What we have now are a bunch of bureaucrats who have made this decision on behalf of the military," Hall said. "Those bureaucrats make a lot of money comparatively speaking, and the military do not and have the most exposure."
Under the old rules, military members could choose to forgo GAP, he said, but "the idea that they can't even get it makes no sense."
In October, NADA sent a letter arguing its case to William Castle, principal deputy general counsel for the Defense Department. The department acknowledged receipt of the letter but offered no other response, NADA said. On Feb. 6, NADA sent another letter, outlining the impact on service members with case studies and data from the unnamed indirect auto lender.
"Since the submission of our October 2018 letter, the risks that we identified have, unfortunately, matured into quantifiable injury to service members," Paul Metrey, NADA's vice president of regulatory affairs, wrote in the letter. He cited market data asserting that the MLA interpretation exposed about 5,000 military members to about $15 million in liability from total vehicle losses last year.
"We renew our request that DOD immediately withdraw [the December 2017 interpretation] to restore to service members the opportunity to protect themselves from incurring significant, unexpected, and unnecessary liability that threatens their military readiness," Metrey wrote.