Sean Stapleton, president & CEO of Warrantech, recently took part in TWICE magazine’s roundtable discussion on the state of the extended-service contract industry. The following is his response to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.
What is the greatest challenge facing the extended-service contract industry?
A significant challenge faced by our industry continues to be retail margin compression. As a result of the fierce competition between retailers for customers, retailers have few choices but to generate savings in other parts of their businesses. Extended service contract programs are certainly high on the list of many retailers as an opportunity to retain additional revenue. The result is that administrators and their respective underwriters are forced to try to become more efficient or reduce claims funds to compete.
While competition should be seen as a positive force in business, this continued underwriting pressure could lead to administrators underpricing programs to win opportunities. This will likely result in programs being underwater, thereby leading to frantic attempts by the administrators and their underwriters to reduce both administration expenses and claims costs. The likely downstream effect will be negative customer experiences and further diminished customer loyalty.
Conversely, where do the industry’s greatest opportunities lie?
The greatest opportunity for our industry will be the development of protection solutions that allow customers to cover a broad spectrum of devices and equipment utilizing diverse payment mechanisms. Warrantech has developed solutions that better enable customers to purchase protection plan products in a convenient manner, covering more items, and providing additional value that ultimately will result in additional revenue and customer satisfaction for our partners.
What is your biggest takeaway from last month’s International CES?
The consumer appetite for connected products is gaining momentum at an astounding pace. Manufacturers are clearly listening to consumers and are focusing their efforts on smart products, which are able to communicate and synchronize in ways never before imagined.
With this enhanced communication functionality being developed for devices, we believe that consumers will demand a unified platform that can seamlessly monitor, control and report back to the consumer on the status of their connected equipment.
The next logical step will be a protection solution that is able to provide coverage for each connected device. In order to provide a comprehensive single solution, providers of protection plans will need to be able to provide protection for connected products ranging from smart appliances, televisions, mobile devices and even automobiles.
Please share any new programs or services that would be of interest to our readers.
AmTrust [Warrantech’s parent company] has been an innovator in the telematics space with regard to protection offerings. Last year we launched our Connected Protection solution, which provided vehicle service contract purchasers with the ability to protect mobile devices connected to their vehicle’s WIFI network.
For 2015 we plan to provide our retail partners with the ability to offer monthly protection plans to their customers, which will provide comprehensive protection for an extensive array of equipment owned by the customer. Customers will enjoy additional benefits for products purchased through the retail partner, including disappearing deductibles and in-store service. The goal is to drive both recurring protection plan sales and traffic to the participating retail partner’s stores. The offering, known as our Loyalty by Warranty™ program, will provide retailers with an innovative way to increase revenue as well as customer loyalty.
Visit twice.com to read the extended service roundtable discussion in its entirety and for more industry insight.
And be sure to keep up with Warrantech on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn so you can learn more about our innovative products and services as they become available.
Filed Under: CES, contract, customers, extended, industry, Sean, service, Stapleton, TWICE, Warrantech
AmTrust Financial Services (AFSI), the parent company of Warrantech, issued strong fourth quarter and year-end earnings today with significant momentum for 2015.
For the fourth quarter, the company’s earnings per share (EPS) beat the $1.20 EPS street estimate by $0.26. Gross written premium (GWP) for 2014 was $1.46 billion, up 38% from the same period last year. Small Commercial Business contributed 49% of total company GWP in 2014 and grew by 81% from 2013 to 2014.
On a profitability basis for 2014, the company is running at a loss ratio of 66.4% and an expense ratio just over 24%. Precisely, AFSI’s year-end combined ratio was 90.7%, up only 0.2% points from last year.
Lastly, the company booked $101.7 million in service and fee income in Q4, up 9.4% from the same time period last year. Most of that income was contributed by AMT Warranty/Warrantech, AMT Consumer Services, CNH Capital and Car Care Plan (the company’s overseas vehicle service contract operation).
A summary of Q4 results is listed below, and the earnings release is linked below as well. Thanks to all of our employees and agents who contributed to these tremendous revenue and profitability results. Keep up the great work!
Fourth Quarter 2014
• Gross written premium of $1.46 billion, up 37.9%, and net earned premium of $908.2 million, up 28.4% from the fourth quarter 2013
• Operating diluted EPS of $1.46 ($0.12 attributable to gain on life settlements) compared to $1.24 ($0.03 attributable to gain on life settlements) in the fourth quarter 2013
• Annualized operating return on common equity of 27.7% and annualized return on common equity of 16.7%
• Service and fee income of $101.7 million, up 9.4% from the fourth quarter 2013
• Operating earnings of $118.5 million compared to $98.5 million from the fourth quarter 2013
• Net income attributable to common stockholders of $71.6 million compared to $64.7 million in the fourth quarter 2013
• Diluted EPS of $0.88 compared with $0.82 in the fourth quarter 2013
• Combined ratio of 90.8% compared to 89.9% in the fourth quarter 2013
Full Year 2014
• Gross written premium of $6.09 billion, up 47.9%, and net earned premium of $3.53 billion, up 55.6% over 2013
• Operating diluted EPS of $5.75 ($0.08 attributable to gain on life settlements) compared to $3.56 ($0.03 attributable to gain on life settlements) in 2013
• Operating return on common equity of 29.9% and return on common equity of 28.4%
• Service and fee income of $409.7 million, up 23.6% from 2013
• Operating earnings of $458.4 million compared to $278.2 million in 2013
• Net income attributable to common stockholders of $434.3 million compared to $278.2 million in 2013
• Diluted EPS of $5.45 compared with $3.56 in 2013
• Combined ratio of 90.7% compared to 90.5% in 2013
• Book value per common share of $22.34, up from $17.74 at December 31, 2013
• AmTrust's stockholders' equity was $2.04 billion as of December 31, 2014
To view AmTrust Financial Services’ Q4/2014 earnings release, visit the Investor Relations section at http://ir.amtrustgroup.com/ or click on the following link: http://ir.amtrustgroup.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=895835
Filed Under: 2014, AmTrust, earnings, fourth, gross, income, premium, profitability, quarter, written