The Importance of A.M. Best's Financial Strength Ratings

By: Global Administrator

March 28, 2014

When deciding on an extended service plan or vehicle service contract, it is important to know who is backing your coverage. Is the company reputable? Is it financially stable? And, just as significant on your part, do you really have time to research each and every company?

This is where A.M. Best comes into the picture. As the world's oldest and most authoritative insurance rating and information source, it sets the benchmark for determining an organization's credibility. Insurance agents, brokers, financial advisors, banks and other insurance professionals have all come to rely on A.M. Best's ratings and analysis to verify each insurer's financial strength. And if you're like most smart consumers who insist on doing thorough research, this rating can be one of your most valuable tools.

A.M. Best's Financial Strength Ratings provide you with an independent third-party evaluation of an insurer's ability to fulfill its financial obligations and can help serve as a key indicator as to whether or not your coverage plan is a smart long-term investment. Each rating is based on a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative evaluation of a company's balance sheet strength, operating performance and business profile. So you're basically getting a snapshot of how the company's business plan is expected to perform over an extended period of time.

And when you consider how volatile the market has been in recent years, these ratings have become even more important. A.M. Best has a proven track record in indicating which insurers may encounter financial difficulties. Or as Warranty Week noted in a recent article: "A.M. Best gets it right over the long term … there is an insistence on the part of some banks and credit unions that they won't finance a VSC (vehicle service contract) without an A- or better. And we'd suggest this threshold could also become a defining level for VSC buyers. Ask the question: 'Who is your underwriter and are they rated A- or better?' If not, why not?"

For more information on A.M Best's Financial Strength Ratings, visit http://www.ambest.com/ratings/guide.asp

And to see the A.M. Best rating report for Warrantech's parent company, AmTrust Financial, visit http://www.amtrustgroup.com/About-Us/AM-Best.aspx

Filed Under: A.M., Best, contract, financial, ratings, service, strength, vehicle, Warranty, Week

Combat Weather-Related Car Trouble With A Vehicle Service Contract

By: Global Administrator

March 11, 2014

This has been a winter of extremes. While a number of cities in the eastern United States set records for frigid temperatures, snow accumulation and maintenance costs, western cities like Las Vegas and Tucson reported their warmest winters on record. The effects have been immediately noticeable to anyone who has had to endure the elements. But what might not be as apparent is the effect that these excessive record-setting temperatures can have on your vehicle.

“When consumers buy a new car, they may not be thinking about how weather extremes can affect the life of crucial car parts,” said Tim Meenan, executive director of the Service Contract Industry Council (SCIC). “No one can do anything to control the weather or its impact on vehicles, but extended warranties can make a tremendous difference in getting past those problems. They’re the best protection for your wallet when extreme weather causes damage that requires a trip to the repair shop.”

An extended warranty (sometimes referred to as a vehicle service contract) can also provide you with added peace of mind in case you find yourself stranded in a remote area during a snowstorm or heat wave. Plus, it allows you to protect your investment, increase your car’s value and make upfront payments that fit within your budget so you can avoid having to pay for any large or unexpected repairs in the future.

The SCIC points out that the winter and summer seasons are the busiest times of year for car repair shops. Salt, sand, UV rays and ice are just a few of the culprits that can lead to rusting, corrosion and expensive repairs to core components.

Brian Hafer, vice president of marketing for AutoMD.com, adds that extreme temperatures are a car killer, which makes regular maintenance all the more important. “Not following the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual is very common,” says Hafer. “People have these repair issues because they didn't consult their owner's manual. Typically, it happens more often with younger drivers because they just aren't aware.”

What You Can Do About It

Besides having a reliable vehicle service contract and establishing a routine maintenance schedule, here are a few simple tips to help extend the life of your vehicle and save you money in the long run.

  • Check your antifreeze. Not having fresh coolant can cause your water pump to freeze during the winter and overheat your engine in the summer.
  • Examine all fluid levels. Oil, transmission, brake and power steering fluids can all thicken in cold weather, while excessive heat can cause fluid loss.
  • Make sure your battery is fully charged. Batteries get stressed in extreme temperatures. If yours is more than three years old, consider replacing it.
  • Consider an engine block heater for the winter months. At the very least, always warm up your car engine before driving to allow oil to circulate properly.
  • Keep the gas tank half full. This will help you avoid frozen gas lines.
  • Inspect your tires. Cold weather can cause tires to lose several pounds of air pressure and searing heat can lead to cracking.
  • Clean the windshield before using your wipers. Ice can tear wiper blades and restrict motion, which can also tear up the wiper motor and pop the arm.
  • Keep extra fluids in your car. Extra coolant and windshield washer fluid are always good to have on hand in case of an emergency.

For more information about vehicle service contracts from Warrantech, visit http://www.warrantech.com/partners/automotive/service-contracts/

Filed Under: contract, extended, extreme, service, temperatures, Vehicle, warranties