AUL Corp., one of the nation's leading finance and insurance product providers, plans to grow market share this year by automating processes to relieve underwriting tasks from employees and bolstering its customer service efforts. Both changes reflect a growing trend of F&I companies to undertake consumer-facing initiatives.
Jose Fleites, COO and CIO of AUL Corp., headquartered in Napa, Calif., said customers want to engage directly with the F&I companies that underwrite the products protecting their vehicles. The company, he said, is pivoting to meet that demand by investing in its call centers and considering texting and chatbox services. AUL envisions a scenario in which customers experiencing an issue — for instance, breaking down on the side of the road at midnight — would be able to reach the product provider to find out if the F&I product they purchased in the dealership will cover the repair expenses.
"Customers are playing more of an active role in the products that they buy," Fleites said. "We never want to replace the dealership relationship. We want to enhance it."
AUL, known for its service contract business, expanded to a full suite of F&I products last May. Those products now include tire and wheel protection and theft-prevention products, among others.