Mercedes owners no longer need to worry about coffee-stained seats or scratched fenders. The company has them covered.
Mercedes-Benz Financial began rolling out its new First Class Exterior and First Class Interior paint and fabric insurance programs in dealerships last month.
The programs are part of a larger strategy to add more Mercedes-Benz-branded insurance products to the F&I office.
"All of this was based on feedback and input we got from our dealerships, from dealership interviews and dealer surveys," said Anamika Singhal, general manager, Insurance Americas, in a May 14 phone interview. Daimler Insurance Americas, based in suburban Detroit, is the internal department behind Mercedes-Benz Financial insurance products.
DuPont Automotive is the supplier for the branded paint and fabric programs, she said.
Rival BMW Financial Services is following a similar strategy with BMW-branded F&I products. BMW says customers see more value in branded products.
Moreover, branded F&I products create a profit opportunity for dealers and for the finance company itself. That's become more important with new-vehicle margins under pressure, even for European luxury brands.
"We are working down the list of high-impact opportunities for our dealerships," Singhal said.
Daimler Insurance Americas had to restart its business in 2008 after the breakup of DaimlerChrysler.
Singhal said extended service contracts were the first insurance product requested by Mercedes-Benz dealers.
"They basically said the biggest-selling product was the service contract," she said. "The second was wheel and tire. Third was paint and fabric protection." Singhal said more branded insurance products are to come.
Mercedes-Benz USA LLC already offers the Mercedes-Benz Extended Limited Warranty. Customers with a standard 4-year/50,000-mile warranty can purchase additional coverage of up to 7 years/100,000 miles. The company also offers Mercedes-Benz First Class Wheel and Tire Protection.
Said Singhal: "We want to differentiate our [insurance] products the way we differentiate our vehicles."