What's New And Noteworthy In Warranties

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As the CE industry evolves, so does the extended warranty business. Here's a rundown of the latest developments among service plan providers:

AMT Service Corp.: The full-service underwriter and administrator has opened a new 20,000-square foot call center in Cleveland to help handle call volumes of 500,000 per month. Parent company AmTrust Financial, with some $1 billion in assets, went public in November and financed H.I.G.'s recent acquisition of Warrantech.

Assurant Solutions: The company has partnered with McAfee to create a program that bundles the software developer's security products with a service plan that includes free 24/7 tech support and up to $2,500 in damage protection.

Bankers Warranty Group: BWG has officially supplanted VAC Service, which it acquired in 2005. Thanks to upgrades in systems, processes and personnel, "The new organization barely resembles the old VAC," said president/CEO Kevin Rupkey. New clients include Car Toys, Famous Tate, F.Y.E. music stores and Home Theater Specialists of America (HTSA).

NEW Service Plan Division: The company's recent acquisition of Blue Realm has allowed it to add a unique desktop solution to its product offerings that "creates a presence for the retailer on the consumer's computer," said president Danny Hourigan. The service portal "expands customer touch points," he said, and helps foster customer loyalty, provides cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, and will help reduce returns.

The Warranty Group: The $4.4 billion business was spun off by AON in November and, under new corporate parent Onex, remains the largest single-source global provider of administrative, underwriting and marketing services.

The company is preparing to move into new digs in downtown Chicago.

RepairTech: The Iselin, N.J.-based business, which entered the extended service contract business in 1999, has recently added veteran sales exec Robert Rosenthal to its ranks as national sales manager.

Warrantech: H.I.G. Capital has acquired all the outstanding shares of Warrantech in a previously announced cash merger for 75 cents per share. Said Warrantech CEO Joel San Antonio, "This transaction will provide Warrantech with a better opportunity to grow its business as a private company and service our customer base."

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