General Motors is rolling out branded F&I products, starting this month with a pilot at its 200 or so dealerships in Ohio and going nationwide by year end.
GM will offer extended-service contracts, tire-and-wheel coverage and guaranteed asset protection, or GAP, policies bearing the Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC brand names, says Steve Hill, vice president of customer care and aftersales for GM North America, the unit responsible for marketing and managing the program.
Other manufacturers and their captive finance companies also offer branded F&I products. Customers see branded F&I products as more trustworthy and more valuable, the companies say. Branded products can work for other types of companies, too; Allstate Dealer Services says it increased sales after phasing out its in-house brand, CarMor, in favor of the better-known Allstate brand in 2011.
The GM-branded F&I products will compete with products from a GM partner, Ally Financial Inc., the former GMAC. That includes Ally's GM Protection Plan extended-service contracts. Ally licenses the GM Protection Plan name from GM, and it has the rights to continue to use the name through November 2016, Ally spokesman Tony Sapienza says.
The Ally Auto Dealer Products & Services unit offers -- in addition to extended-service contracts -- prepaid maintenance, GAP, lease wear-and-tear coverage, tire-and-wheel, anti-theft protection, appearance protection and dent repair, Sapienza says.
For its new branded F&I products, GM is using a unit of AmTrust Financial Services Inc. as administrator and for insurance backing the products, Hill says.
He says the new GM products will be available for used GM cars as well as new ones.
For non-GM used vehicles and for vehicles from Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer, GM offers a protection plan under the MyAuto brand.
Jim Kornas, director of extended protection plans, says GM is considering adding more F&I products.
"When you look at F&I products," he says, "these ones we're offering are the vast majority of what's sold by our dealers."