Top Considerations when Forming a Service Contract Provider



Here are the Top Items to consider when you are evaluating building or in-sourcing a Service Contract Program:


Overall Structure
    Previous articles discuss the various elements of a service contract program, including the obligor (provider), the administrator, the financial guarantee, and the service entity. Options exist for structuring a program with some internal components and some outsourced ones. For instance, using a third party as the obligor (the company making the legal promise to a consumer) has many potential benefits, such as rev recognition and no need to file for a license in many states. Time to market is faster with this option and significantly less expensive in many cases.

Insurance Partner
    The most common method to satisfy state-level financial guarantee requirements for a service contract program is to use a Service Contract Reimbursement Insurance Policy from a licensed and admitted insurance carrier. Multiple good options exist for an insurance carrier; knowing which carriers are better at what programs and structures is extremely important.

Technology Partner
    Many options exist for managing a service contract program, and each provider has unique capabilities and expertise. Knowing the options that make sense is important, and performing a deep dive into the partners to find the right solution is important. Options range from in-house limited functionality solutions to large Enterprise solutions.

Legal and Compliance Partner
    It is important to understand each state's legal and compliance landscape for service contract programs. This includes support in creating the actual terms and conditions, understanding administrator licenses, understanding obligor licenses, understanding seller appointments, and many additional elements. Even if you use a third party for some elements, you should have visibility into the requirements and any changes.

Rate Development
    This includes understanding how to price your program and the various inputs necessary to build a model. Actuarial support may be necessary depending on the program, so knowing the right option is important.

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What are the Basic Elements of a Service Contract Program



The Seller
    This represents the entity making the solicitation and sale of a Service Contract. This includes Retailers, Dealers, and Marketers.

The Obligor (aka Provider)
    The Obligor (or Provider) is the legal entity that is issuing the Service Contract.

    Many states require some form of registration (licensing), form filing for terms and conditions, financial guarantees, officer and/or director biographical reviews, and other requirements. This is not a one-time event; ongoing reporting and license renewals exist in many states.

    This is on a state-by-state basis and varies on a product level. Examples include vehicle service contracts, ancillary auto products, home warranties, consumer appliances, and electronics products.

The Administrator
    The Administrator is the entity providing customer entitlement, claim adjudication, and payment of claims.

    Some states require registration of the administrator and some form of financial guarantee.

The Financial Guarantee
    Most states have requirements for how an Obligor (Provider) must provide for the financial guarantee of a Service Contract.

    Financial guarantees are intended to protect the Contract Holder from the financial failure of the Obligor (Provider).

    Financial guarantees may include cash reserves, bonds, a parental guarantee from an entity with substantial and defined net worth, or a service contract reimbursement insurance policy (contractual liability insurance policy).

The Service Entity
    The Service Entity is a company the Administrator utilizes to perform repair or replacement services in fulfilling the obligations of the Obligor in the Service Contract.

    Some states require registration of the administrator and some form of financial guarantee.

The Contract Holder
    The actual Contract Holder (or Consumer) that the Service Contract is issued to and who is the owner of the covered product.





Process Flow for Service Contract Elements





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What is a Service Contract Obligor



As you research Service Contract programs, you will hear the term Obligor (aka Provider) as a significant component of the Service Contract process. At the most simplistic level, the Obligor is the legal entity that is issuing the Service Contract and making the promise.

Many states have specific requirements for Obligors, including registration, terms and conditions design & filing, and demonstrating how the Obligor will provide a financial guarantee to back the Service Contract. Each state has its own requirements and varies on a product level, including vehicle service contracts, ancillary auto products, home warranties, and consumer appliances & electronics. Having proper compliance support is very important, and several great options exist to help you with compliance if you choose to form an Obligor.

Forming your own Obligor is not necessary if you wish to design an in-house program. Many structural options exist to take control of the consumer-facing elements while using a third party for the regulatory side and not impacting revenue recognition. This streamlines a program, removes unnecessary costs, and allows the Retailer or OEM to control the customer experience for enhanced lifetime value. It is important to pick the right third-party partner for your business based on mapping out your objectives and the third party's expertise.

WarrantyResources.com is a property of Personal Safeguards Group, LLC. Contact Us with any Questions.