Tag Archive | "Automotive"

Alpha Warranty Services Teams with Agent and Dealer to Give Back to Struggling Family After Teen Writes Letter

PHILADELPHIA – Alpha Warranty Services, Inc. continues to support the local community by Delivering the Unexpected to those in need.

Alpha Warranty Services has a long history of being able to partner with their agents and dealers to Deliver the Unexpected to those in need. When Alpha representative Cheryl Barlow learned that Dani’s Auto received a letter about a family in need she immediately knew what to do. The letter from 16-year-old Maiya James, of West Philadelphia, explained that she would watch her mother, Katherine, struggle daily to care for her sister, Mariah. Mariah requires 24-hour nursing care because of her medical conditions including, blindness, cerebral palsy and epilepsy.  Amidst, their struggle, the van used to transport Mariah to doctors’ appointments was unreliable and constantly broke down. After passing the letter on to Alpha Warranty Services, they partnered with Dani’s Auto to provide a solution. Dani’s Auto donated a new wheel-chair accessible van, while Alpha Warranty Services donated a 5-year vehicle service contract and a gift card of $500 to the family to help their situation.

“On the surface Alpha Warranty might appear like any other vehicle warranty company but our employees and partners know we are different.  It’s not just about paying for unexpected auto repairs; it’s about helping our customers through difficult and often stressful situations.  We provide peace of mind and take great pleasure in saving people money and getting them safely back on the road.”, says Darin Ramos, VP of Business Development.

Local Philadelphia TV station WTXF, Fox 29, reported the story as the dealership surprised the family with the donation. The news report can be viewed at http://www.fox29.com/news/234588976-story.

Alpha Warranty Services is built on a foundation of integrity and believes in valuing people over profit. Alpha is based in Salt Lake City, UT with VSC plans available in all 50 states.

For additional information about Alpha Warranty Services, Inc. please visit www.AlphaWarranty.com or contact Darin Ramos at 1.800.662.5519 Ext. 217.

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An Interview with Aaron Lunt

In late August at Paris Las Vegas, Aaron E. Lunt delivered “F&I Products, Regulators and the Presidential Election,” a dynamic opening keynote address that served as a crash course in the design, sale and regulation of F&I and other insurance products. As an attorney and executive, Lunt helps make the big decisions at The Warranty Group, where he serves as assistant general counsel and head of regulatory affairs. P&A caught up with Lunt to talk about his love for the law, the rigors of college athletics, and the past, present and future of compliance.

P&A: Aaron, what made you want to become a lawyer?

Lunt: I was a business administration major at Trinity Christian College, which I attended on a partial basketball scholarship. I considered making political science my major, but it just didn’t make sense. A professor encouraged me to take the LSAT, and I did reasonably well. I was able to get into the John Marshall Law School here in Chicago.

But I should tell you my interest in the law was originally piqued by my high school soccer coach, Bob Thomas. He was a placekicker for the Chicago Bears in the 1970s and ’80s. He became an attorney and later an appellate court judge, and he currently sits on the Illinois Supreme Court. He mentored me and was highly influential in my decision to pursue the law as my career.

P&A: What was law school like?

Lunt: Intense. Law school is designed to beat you up a little bit. In the first year, they scare you to death. Then they work you to death in the second year and bore you to death in the third. There is an unbelievable amount of reading.

The goal is to develop your analytical and reasoning skills. They use the Socratic method. The professor calls on a student and you literally could be on for the next 45 or 50 minutes, answering questions and lobbing counterarguments. Then you take an exam at the end of each semester, and that’s your entire grade. It was intense, and the competition was fierce.

P&A: Did you excel?

Lunt: I did. I made the law review, which is the preeminent journal each law school has, and it’s typically only open to students who rank in the top tier. I would say I quickly emerged as a thought leader.

P&A: How did you end up practicing law in the automotive industry?

Lunt: My first job out of law school was with an insurance defense law firm. I then migrated in-house at Zurich Insurance, where I learned all about corporate law and compliance, and then to The Warranty Group. So you could say I fell into it. It’s really a combination of your first job and where your passions lie that dictate the type of law you practice.

When you’re an in-house lawyer, you need to be part of your company’s strategic planning. When you’re with an outside law firm, more often than not, you react to problems as they manifest. You have no financial connection other than your fee. When you’re working in-house, your client is your employer, and you need to be prescient. You’re navigating the headwinds of the market, the regulatory environment and the broader economy. You need to help the company move forward.

P&A: An attorney friend of mine once told me a good lawyer will tell you what you can do, whereas a bad lawyer only knows what you can’t do.

Lunt: I agree with that statement. A lot of legal departments get labeled as the “deal prevention unit.” You can come in with a great idea or a great new client relationship, and the lawyer says there are too many problems. I spend a lot of my time on strategic development initiatives. I understand our direction, the type of clients we want to win and the types of products we want to sell to consumers. Being engaged on the front end enables me and my team to think of compliant solutions early, so business goals and objectives can be attained.

P&A: Are friends and family always asking you for free legal advice?

Lunt: It happens from time to time. They often ask about family or estate planning issues, which I know little about, as it’s not my area of expertise.

P&A: Do you resent that? Wouldn’t you rather they asked about your other interests?

Lunt: No, I don’t. I do wish I could be more helpful at times. Someone might need technical guidance on a particular area of law, which I know little about, but I oftentimes can be helpful in assisting them in breaking down the issue or pointing them to a resource. So I don’t resent it. I can put my analytical and problem-solving skills to use and help coach them in the right direction.

P&A:Do you often get to work with agents and dealers?

Lunt: Not as much as I would prefer. Our frontline sales team primarly handles those relationships. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in our industry, and I love that. We are an industry of problem-solvers and we work in an industry that is important to the national and global economy. People are looking for financial peace of mind when they buy a protection product. Our organization is excited when we are able to assist a consumer in their time of need to fix their automobile, which is the mode of transportation to get them to work, to see family, to the grocery store, to community outings, or just about anywhere they need to be. We want to do the right thing as an industry.

P&A:You have spoken at three Compliance Summits. Are you encouraged by what you’re hearing there?

Lunt: I am. I think it’s a great event that brings together agents, dealer principals, providers, attorneys, compliance professionals — it’s just a great cross-section of industry stakeholders. We can get too focused on the day-to-day and miss the bigger picture. What are the really big issues? You learn new things from each other and new business happens.

P&A: Do you believe the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will attempt to regulate the pricing and sale of F&I products?

Lunt: The CFPB has said they’re looking at the add-on products market. I don’t know exactly what that means or where they’re looking to go; only time will tell. To this point, the CFPB has focused primarily on lenders and how add-on products are marketed. I think the industry, however, has an incredible opportunity to explain our value proposition to the CFPB and consumer organizations. We have to counter some of the negative perceptions with education.

P&A: Will that require a structural change? Do we have to bring F&I out of the back office?

Lunt: Not necessarily. I don’t think we need a structural change. With the advent of the Internet and increasing sources of information, we have a more educated consumer. The degree of knowledge is only going to grow, for a variety of reasons. The F&I office is the traditional way to distribute product, but there are direct-to-consumer companies competing for those customers. So they have a lot more choice than they’ve had and certainly more access to information.

P&A: Do you think there’s enough good information about F&I products out there to counter the high-profile consumer advocates who are telling car buyers they don’t need them?

Lunt: No. I think there is an opportunity to provide information on the importance of extended warranties and service contracts, as well as help educate consumers on selecting the best provider for their needs.

P&A: Are you from Chicago?

Lunt: I am, born and raised in the northwest suburbs.

P&A: Tell me something about Chicago that most people don’t know.

Lunt: Most people don’t know that Chicago is literally a little insurance capital in North America. You’ve got several insurance companies headquartered in Chicago or in the Chicagoland area. The Warranty Group was founded in Chicago in 1964. But other major players have a significant presence, including Zurich, CNA and Allstate. You’ve also got several brokers with headquarters or a substantial presence in the area. Chicago has a lot of industry; it’s almost like the Wall Street of insurance.

P&A:It’s funny you say that, because I’m calling from Hartford, which bills itself as the insurance capital of the world.

Lunt: Hartford certainly has a big piece of the insurance industry. I’m not trying to dethrone Hartford. But Chicago has so much industry, and it’s in the center of the United States. So in my opinion, it has a geographical advantage over Hartford. Our city has a lot of things going for it.

P&A: What do you do in your spare time?

Lunt: I’m married and we have three children, all boys. We are involved in a lot of sports, including soccer and basketball. We like to swim as a family. And we are very active in our local church.

P&A: You played basketball at the college level. Do you still play competitively?

Lunt: No, I do not, other than with my kids. It’s hard to find time, and I would be worried about injuries. It would be difficult to commute if I blew out my knee or twisted my ankle. Not to mention the fact my skills have greatly diminished since my playing days!

P&A: Don’t you miss it?

Lunt: I miss the competition, intensity and discipline of being a collegiate athlete. But I channel that energy into other areas. The lessons I’ve learned from playing competitive sports have translated well into my professional career.

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Wise F&I Launches an Automotive Tire & Wheel Program

Wise F&I is expanding their product suite to include TIREWise, an automotive tire and wheel protection program. A tire and wheel protection program helps to cover consumers from the expense of road hazard damage to their tires and wheels (rims). Road hazard damage can be caused by hitting a pothole, running over a nail or hitting debris on the road. Any of these instances can cause expensive damage to the consumer’s tires and/or wheels. To help protect the consumer financially, TIREWise offers coverage for the tire and wheel, along with additional benefits including: mounting and balancing, 24 hour roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement and trip interruption.

“By offering a tire and wheel protection program we will provide a beneficial product to the consumer for their vehicle, and also round out our product offerings for our agents, dealers and lender partners,” said Matt Croak, President, Wise F&I.

Wise F&I’s suite of products include: TIREWise, GAPWise, WiseCARE, THEFTWise, WiseTVP and KEYWise. All Wise F&I products are available for electronic contracting.

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Spending on New Cars Hits All-Time High, Even as Loans Stretch to Record Lengths

While May might not have brought the big uptick in sales we’ve seen in recent months, preliminary data suggest that automakers took in record revenues, with the average transaction price of new cars, trucks and crossovers sold last month climbing by at least 4%, reports The Detroit Bureau. 

All told, U.S. buyers spent a record $52 billion for their new vehicles in May, in part, due to a sharp, year-over-year decline in incentives, according to several firms that track monthly sales data. A separate study suggested that motorists are covering those higher costs by stretching their loans out longer than the industry has ever seen, an average 67 months.

“New vehicle sector and segment preference indicates consumers are confident about the economy and their finances,” said TrueCar President John Krafcik. “Not only are these shifts to premium brands and utilities telling from an economic indicator standpoint, they signal sizable revenue gains automakers should reap this year.”

The data tracking firm estimated that the typical vehicle had an average transaction price, or ATP, of $32,452, up 4% rom May 2014. Lower incentives played a role, but manufacturers have also seen buyers show more confidence by loading up on options and by trading up to higher-level vehicles. TrueCar estimated sales of premium brands jumped 10.6% during the first four months of 2015 compared to just 4.8% for mainstream brands.

BMW and its Mini subsidiary, saw prices jump in May by 6.5%, according to a separate analysis by Kelley Blue Book. Mazda saw a similar increase, while Ford and General Motors prices climbed a more modest 4.3% and 4.2% respectively. Toyota’s average price rose just 2.3%, even though it trimmed incentives by more than 10%, year-over-year.

With only a handful of exceptions, notably including General Motors, Hyundai and Kia, most makers trimmed rebates and givebacks as the U.S. auto market continued to gain ground. And analysts noted that the modest overall sales numbers for May actually misrepresent the market’s momentum, as the peculiarities of the industry’s reporting system counted fewer so-called “sales days” last month than in May 2014.

The surge in spending also reflects a year-long shift from fuel-efficient small cars and alternative-power vehicles to larger passenger cars, pickups and SUVs.

“With the national average price of gasoline down nearly a dollar per gallon on average from one year ago, truck and SUV demand remains strong, elevating average transaction prices,” Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said in a statement.

The steady climb in new car prices might come as a surprise to those worried about relatively stagnant middle-class earnings and the rising wealth gap. In reality, most new car buyers today register on the upper end of the middle-class spectrum. Even for compact cars, industry research often shows household income levels approaching six figures.

And buyers are simply stretching out their purchases to hold down monthly payments – while also encouraged by continuing low interest rates. Gone are the days of three and even four-year loans. Borrowers extended their loans terms during the previous quarter to 67 months on average, longer than ever for new cars, according to Experian Automotive.

“While longer term loans are growing, they do not necessarily represent an ominous sign for the market,” said Melinda Zabritski, Experian’s senior director of automotive finance.

On the plus side, the trend allows consumers to buy more vehicle without busting the household budget. On the downside, however, it means they likely have to keep those vehicles longer in order to avoid being upside-down on loans when trading in, cautioned Zabritski. That could foretell slower future growth of the automotive market.

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Audi Wants to Grow Even After Reaching 2015 Goals

INGOLSTADT – Volkswagen AG’s Audi division aims to continue expanding even if it achieves its goal of selling 1.5 million cars a year by 2015 and becoming the world’s No. 1 luxury brand.

“Of course we don’t want to stop there,” Audi CEO Rupert Stadler told Automotive News Europe Executive Edition in an interview to be published Tuesday, February 22, reported Automotive News Europe.

Stadler said Audi has other key targets as part of its strategic roadmap. “Profitability is one of them but not the only important one. Customer satisfaction and quality are other important goals. We want to become the most successful premium brand and this means that all these targets have to be ‘premium,” Stadler said.

Audi urgently needs more production capacity within the next four years to reach the sales goals. Stadler said. “In Hungary we will add an additional capacity of 125.000 units as of 2013. This year the Audi Q3 has its run up in Martorell in Spain with a maximum capacity of 100.000. And we will make a decision on an U.S. facility until 2015.”

Stadler said China will be Audi’s top market with Germany as number two and volume increasing in the United States. “I think that our volume in the U.S. market can grow 50 percent over the next five years and that we can reach 200.000 units per year after 2015.”

The UK will be Audi’s fourth-largest market, followed by Italy at number five, Stadler said.

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