Information for Service Contract Providers
What is a service contract?
In New York, a service contract is a contract or agreement, for a separate or additional consideration and for a specific duration, to perform the repair, replacement or maintenance of any kind of property, or indemnification for the repair, replacement or maintenance of property, due to a defect in materials or workmanship or wear and tear. Although a service contract may cover any kind of property, some of the most common kinds of property covered by service contracts include motor vehicles, personal electronics, computers, home appliances and certain residential plumbing, heating, cooling, ventilation, and electrical system components. A service contract may also provide indemnity payments for incidental damages. However, the indemnity payments may not exceed the purchase price of the property serviced. A service contract may also provide for the repair, replacement or maintenance of property for damage resulting from power surges and accidental damage from handling.
In addition, a service contract may provide for the following:
- repair or replacement of a motor vehicle tire or wheel as a result of damage due to a road hazard, when the contract is made by or for the manufacturer or seller of the tire (“road hazard service contracts”);
- repair of chips or cracks in a motor vehicle windshield (“windshield repair service contracts”), when the contract is made by or for the supplier or seller of such service, but may not provide for the replacement of the windshield;
- repair or removal of dents, dings or creases from a motor vehicle without affecting the existing paint finish using paintless dent repair techniques (“paintless dent repair service contracts”), when the contract is made by or for the supplier or seller of such service, but may not include services that involve the replacement of vehicle body panels, or sanding, bonding, or painting.
A motor vehicle service contract, road hazard service contract, windshield repair service contract or paintless dent repair service contract, may also provide coverage for towing, rental and emergency road service.Warranties covering defects in materials or workmanship made by manufacturers, sellers, or distributors of the product that is covered are very similar to service contracts but generally do not constitute either service contracts or insurance contracts and also do not fall under the Superintendent’s oversight. However, contracts providing for windshield repair or paintless dent repair that require the application of a chemical or other product to the surface of a vehicle, purportedly to reduce the likelihood of damage due to fortuitous events such as road hazards,, are service contracts, even when the contract is sold by the manufacturer, seller or distributor of the chemical or other product. These contracts are not warranties of the applied product.
Service Contract Providers
A service contract provider (“provider”) is any person or entity who sells or administers a service contract, and who is contractually obligated to provide service under the service contract. A provider must first register with and obtain approval from the Superintendent of Financial Services (“Superintendent”) prior to selling any service contracts in New York. The applicant must provide acceptable proof of its financial responsibility to meet its service contract obligations as required under the Insurance Law.
A service contract issued by a registered provider is not an insurance contract. The Insurance Law exempts the making of a service contract by a registered provider from the doing of an insurance business.
If you wish to obtain a copy of an application to register as a provider, select this link.
To see the current list of Registered Providers, select this link.
Provider Fees for Windshield Repair and Paintless Dent Repair Service Contracts
Effective August 17, 2012, a provider who sells windshield repair service contracts or paintless dent repair service contracts is required to file the amount of the provider fee (the total amount of money and other consideration charged to the consumer for the service contract) for these contracts with the Superintendent at least 30 days prior to the effective date of the initial fee, or at least 30 days before the effective date of a change in the provider fee. The provider fee charged to a consumer for a windshield repair service contract or a paintless dent repair service contract may not exceed the amount filed with the Superintendent. Providers are not required to file their provider fees with the Superintendent for any other type of service contract.
A provider fee filing is not required for such a service contract where an authorized insurer is the service contract holder (“holder”) and the service contract is being utilized by the insurer as the mechanism providing for the repair of a damaged vehicle that is insured by the insurer. However, a provider whose service contract obligations are insured under a service contract reimbursement insurance policy is not exempt from the provider fee filing on that basis alone.
The provider fee is the total purchase price or consideration that is paid by the service contract holder for the service contract and every service contract must specify the “total purchase price.” The total purchase price is the actual total purchase price or consideration that the holder pays for the service contract; not the amount of money that the seller of the service contract remits to the provider for the provider’s windshield repair or paintless dent repair service contracts. These types of service contracts may not be sold to holders, either by the provider or anyone else who sells the service contract on the provider’s behalf, for any price other than for the amount of the provider fee that has been filed with the Superintendent.
A service contract provider that includes windshield repair or paintless dent repair services in a service contract that also provides other services (i.e. vehicle service or residential appliances and systems) must file the total purchase price for the entire service contract with the Superintendent unless the windshield repair or paintless dent repair services in the service contract are sold for a separately stated charge as an optional addition to the contract, in which case the provider may file the amount of that separately stated charge instead.
A registered provider that is required to file the amount of the provider fee with the Superintendent, or file a change in the filed provider fee, may do so electronically using the NAIC’s System for Electronic Rate and Form Filings (SERFF) system. Information on how to proceed using SERFF is available at: http://www.serff.com/. When making service contract provider fee filing submissions in SERFF, a provider should utilize the Type of Insurance code (TOI) 33.0004 (Service Contracts). A registered provider may instead file the amount of the provider fee, in writing, addressed to:
Property Bureau, Preparation Unit (6th Floor)
New York State Department of Financial Services
One State Street
New York, New York 10004
Whether such a filing is made electronically via SERFF or in writing, the provider must specify, in its filing, for each service contract form, the name of the service contract form that appears on the service contract, a brief description of the services that are provided under the service contract and the amount of the provider fee for each service contract that they sell in New York.
The amounts of the provider fees that have been filed with the Superintendent are available on the Department of Financial Services website. To see the provider fees that have been filed with the Superintendent by registered providers, select this link.
Service Contracts That Include Other Kinds of Services
Providers may bundle service contract with other services or products into one contract or agreement, except an insurance contract, as long as that the provider complies with the requirements of Article 79 of the Insurance Law. However, if the provider has chosen to demonstrate its financial responsibility with a service contract reimbursement insurance policy (“SCRI”), the provider must include language in the contract that clearly identifies to the holder the services that are covered by the provider’s SCRI, which can only include services that may be provided under a service contract, so that the holder is aware that those other services are not covered by the SCRI. The provider must also specify in the contract the total purchase price of the service contract services provided under the contract and it is that price that must be refunded in full if no claim has been made under the contract should the holder exercise his or her statutory right to return the contract.
If you have a complaint about a registered provider, or a person who is selling or administering a service contract that you believe should be registered with the Superintendent, select this link.