Insurers join the fray for F&I business

Donna Harris covers automotive retailing for Automotive News
UPDATED: 1/26/11 11:43 am ET EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been corrected to note that Allstate does not sell GAP insurance directly to customers.

Don’t look now but you might find yourself competing with auto insurance giants for the F&I business.

I recently spoke to a dealership finance professional who says two of her biggest competitors are Allstate and State Farm.

She says that State Farm has its own finance company and it provides auto loans direct to consumers. State Farm is so competitive that it calls customers on their mobile phones while they’re still sitting in the dealership’s F&I office in an attempt to beat the finance terms the dealership is offering.

Then there’s Allstate. Some of its auto insurance policies include up to three years of new-vehicle replacement coverage. So the customer gets a check for a brand-new car if their vehicle is totaled or stolen. That competes with the GAP coverage dealers sell.

Competition has been tough in the F&I office. With big insurers clamoring for the business, it’s getting even more intense.