April 1, 2017
On January 25, Paul and Judy Askos signed the paperwork to officially incorporate Western National Warranty Corporation (WNWC). The couple had dreamed of starting their own business and chose Scottsdale, Arizona, as the place they wanted to be. Our first address was a modest office at 7033 E. First Avenue.
No business was booked through May, but a total of 300 “A Series” contracts were recorded in June. By the end of 1982, nearly 3,000 contracts had been sold. It was just the start for a company that never intended to be the biggest, but instead wanted to be the best of its kind.
Four agents represented WNWC to their automobile dealership accounts. We offered an installment pay plan that provided interest-free financing for the purchase of a vehicle service contract.
Business was growing so five additional phone lines were added with a “call sequencer” that automatically answered incoming calls after three rings. The company had a total of seven departments: Accounting, Agent Services, Claims Adjusting, Customer Services, Data Processing, Marketing and Processing/Rating.
A larger staff led to a bigger office space as we moved from 4300 N. Miller Road to 6360 E. Thomas Road.
Continental Insurance became our underwriter, taking over from our first insurer, Integon.
Each new service contract program was named with the next letter of the alphabet, and by this year we made it to “G Series.” We introduced Convenience+PlusSM —a package of benefits designed to “complete” the manufacturer’s warranty that included rental car, towing, emergency roadside assistance and travel breakdown benefits.
Total contract count for the year was over 150,000.
We began an internal “Target 20” promotion with the goal of reaching monthly contract sales of 20,000—which we finally achieved in April 1997.
Service Payment Plan became one of our partners, and it remains one today, replacing our in-house, interest-free financing with its Principal-Only Payment Plan (POPP).
Our traveling staff was using Sky Pagers for the first time with the understanding that “there may be some cities where this service is not available.”
Within our first 10 years, a total of 906,177 contracts were written and $137 million was paid out in claims.
WNWC turned 10 years old, and we moved to larger accommodations at 4141 N. Scottsdale Road.
We had a record-breaking sales streak with an average of 11,832 contracts booked each month for 15 months.
A new voice-messaging system and phone switch were installed with the promise that, in the near future, the phones would interface with our computer system.
Our underwriter, Continental Insurance Company, merged with CNA.
We moved again, this time to 7272 E. Indian School Road.
We earned the exclusive service contract endorsement of the AIADA (American International Automobile Dealers Association) effective January 1, a distinction we still hold today.
WNWC was purchased by CNA Financial Corporation on August 31, making us a wholly owned subsidiary. For a few years following that we were known as CNA Western National Warranty Corporation.
Founder, president and CEO Paul Askos retired in the summer but remained on the board of directors for another year. Tripp Marshall, who served for many years as executive vice president, was chosen as his successor.
We launched our 401(k) plan. Automotive News named us among “The Big Five” independent service contract providers.
Pro Certified was introduced, enabling our dealers to offer a limited warranty ranging from 1 month/1,000 miles to 12 months/12,000 miles on eligible used vehicles to complement manufacturers’ certified programs.
We established the President’s Advisory Committee (PAC), a group of six agency principals that meets quarterly with CNAN executives to provide input on topics related to our company and industry.
Our headcount was growing rapidly as we finished filling about 50 openings starting in 1997, primarily in Claims, Operations and Information Services.
We formed Palo Verde Holdings, Ltd., — a non-controlled foreign corporation (NCFC) owned by dealers for reinsurance of premiums.
We signed the lease for space in our current building at 4150 N. Drinkwater Boulevard, which was just beginning construction. We were able to watch our new home going up from our offices across the street.
At the end of the year (New Year’s Eve to be specific), members of our IT Department were on-site waiting to see if our system would accommodate the change to the year 2000 and a new century. Fortunately, it did.
“Western” was dropped from our name and we officially became known as CNA National Warranty Corporation. Tom Rowley, who was familiar with our company from his long career at CNA, was named president and CEO.
We launched our website at cnanational.com with separate, secure views containing specialized content for our agents and dealers.
Our VIP Voucher Program was launched, allowing participating dealerships to earn a $25 voucher for every five CNAN service contracts sold.
As the reinsurance landscape shifted, we introduced a second structure—a controlled foreign corporation or CFC—as an alternative to our NCFC. Few other companies offer both options to dealers, giving us a competitive advantage and adding longevity to our dealer relationships.
January marked our 20th anniversary. Rowley retired at the end of the year and Joan Saunders, who had served for many years in our IT Department, was promoted from executive vice president to become our fourth president and CEO.
We were honored to win the first J.D. Power and Associates award ever presented to an automotive service contract provider. Based on dealer evaluations, we ranked highest in dealer satisfaction compared to other service contract providers. We ended the year with 1.3 million contracts in force.
Our product line expanded for the first time beyond service contracts and limited warranties with the introduction of a GAP waiver and Preferred Tire Care (PTC).
CNAN earned a new award: first place for Best Service Contract Provider in the inaugural Dealers’ Choice Awards. We have gone on to earn first-place honors for a record 14 years, including 13 for Best Service Contract Provider and three for Best Reinsurance Provider.
Joe Becker was appointed president and CEO after many years in our Sales Department and as executive vice president. At the same time, Don Oliver was promoted from head of Claims to replace Becker as EVP.
We handled an average of 1,100 claims per day.
We celebrated the 25th anniversary of CNAN. “X Series” was released. Our inception-to-date participation distributions to dealers surpassed $100 million. We passed the $1 billion mark for claims paid!
We had over 1.5 million contracts in force. We upgraded our phone system again, to include the capability to record calls. We introduced online applications including e-rating and e-contracting with QuikRateSM and QuikContractSM.
We launched “X2 Series” and Focus Rewards — an incentive program for F&I managers — and began a state-by-state compliance audit.
On June 6, we processed a record 1,815 claims.
“Z Series” was launched. New positions were created and filled for a chief technology officer and in-house general counsel. Half of our core VSC contracts were submitted electronically instead of on paper. Over 1.8 million contracts were in force.
We celebrated our 30th anniversary! We established a new position for national sales manager, overseeing our regional vice presidents.
Millions of dollars were spent on an entirely new tech environment with faster networks and servers capable of handling greater data loads and higher volume with faster response times. We also moved our equipment from our offices to an offsite, certified data center for even greater stability and security.
In response to the company’s growth, we added the fifth floor to our square footage at Lincoln Towne Centre.
After thorough research and development, we expanded our Pro Certified program by adding a Lifetime Limited Powertrain Warranty and Wrap.
The Better Business Bureau of Arizona named CNAN a finalist in its annual Ethics Awards.
We had more than three million contracts in force! Our E-Commerce Department was working with more than 30 menu providers for online rating and e-contracting, and about two-thirds of our core business was sold electronically.
2016 saw a hiring frenzy, resulting in many new employees—including a chief operating officer and a chief actuary—and a total headcount of nearly 300. That’s a long way from the two founders who started this company back in 1982!
So far, CNAN has had a great run with no end in sight. We continue to grow, build and improve. With the hard work and dedication of our employees, we can look forward to the next 30 years as the industry’s premier service contract provider.