Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. has launched an online service that enables consumers to research, shop for, finance and insure a car online.
Nationwide thus joins an industrywide move to put more of the finance and insurance process online. Similarly, Edmunds.com has begun offering a vehicle protection plan as part of its online listings of used cars.
Nationwide’s service, called Car Buying Reinvented, preapproves consumers online for a certain amount of financing before they complete the vehicle purchase. It also offers the company’s automotive insurance products, such as basic collision, liability and GAP. The service does not offer other F&I insurance products, such as extended warranties.
Nationwide’s service also links with TrueCar Inc.’s shopping service, providing consumers access to TrueCar’s dealer partners.
Consumers don’t have to buy from one of TrueCar’s dealer partners, though. They can purchase a vehicle from any dealer and still finance and insure it online with Nationwide, Lynn Anderson, president of Nationwide’s banking operations, told Automotive News.
“Anyone can do it anywhere at any time,” even on dealerships’ lots, she said. “Consumers had told us that [financing a car] is one of the most painful processes that they go through. It was a process that was ripe to be redesigned.”
With the service, consumers can finance their newly purchased vehicles or refinance after purchase. The majority of Nationwide’s loans are for refinancing vehicles. Car Buying Reinvented allows Nationwide to enter the new-vehicle market to do more financing rather than refinancing, a spokeswoman said.
“We’re committed to making the car-buying experience painless with fast online loan approval, convenient car shopping, competitive rates, no application fees, no prepayment penalties and flexible loan terms,” Anderson said in a June 29 statement announcing the service.
In the statement, Nationwide cited an April Harris Poll survey of 1,000 consumers that concluded that more than three in five car buyers do not believe they will get better financing through a dealership. Less than a quarter of buyers said they are extremely likely to get a preapproval before going to buy their next car.
Studies show that consumers are asking for more opportunities to explore auto F&I options online to find out whether they can be preapproved and to decide which products may be best for them.
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For example, the 2015 Finance and Insurance Study, conducted in September 2014 by MakeMyDeal, which arranges online negotiating and purchasing, found that 83 percent of surveyed consumers were interested in learning about F&I before they visit a dealership. More than 60 percent of consumers would be more likely to buy F&I products if they could learn about them on their own time, the study found.
Edmunds.com also announced a move online last week, called the Used+ program. Dealers offer their used inventory along with a vehicle protection plan and a $200 gasoline card, both from third-party providers, to online shoppers.
In a pilot, dealers who offered guaranteed lowest prices -- a recommended element of the program that allows dealers toss the sticker price of a vehicle and offer a discounted price -- gained seven times more leads by shoppers than previously seen on Edmunds’ original used listing product, the company said.