More Trade-Ins Under Water

Trade-in vehicles in negative equity are at a two-year high, according to Edmunds data.

Of those traded in the fourth quarter for new-vehicle purchases, 20.4% were in negative equity, up from about 18% a year earlier and 15% two years earlier, Edmunds says.

The average debt level of borrowers in negative equity situations, meanwhile, climbed from $5,347 in the fourth quarter of 2022 to a record $6,064, which is up 46% from two years earlier.

Edmunds said that with renewed new-vehicle sales due to replenished inventories and the return of incentives, used-vehicle transactions have in turn cooled.

“With demand for near-new vehicles on the decline, used car values are depreciating similarly to the way they did before the pandemic, and negative equity is rearing its ugly head,” said Director of Insights Ivan Drury in a press release.

Consumers who paid more than manufacturer’s suggested retail prices during the pandemic are the most vulnerable to going under water because their newer trade-in models are most prone to big value declines.

The average transaction price of 1-year-old vehicles fell 15% in the quarter to $38,720, Edmunds said. ATP of 2-year-old models fell 9% to $32,583.

It’s the reverse of the pandemic scenario of scarce used vehicles due to supply constraints’ effect on new-vehicle production.

“During the last few years, consumers could jump into new car loans and their trade-ins were shielded from negative equity because some dealers, desperate for used inventory, were willing to pay near original purchase prices,” Drury said. “These days, consumers need to be more careful — especially if they’re trading in newer vehicles — because near-new cars are being hit the hardest by depreciation.”

Originally posted in F&I Showroom. https://www.fi-magazine.com/373319/more-trade-ins-under-water

2024 Forecast Reveals RV Industry Set for Significant Growth: Shipments Projected to Hit 350,000

The RV industry is poised for significant growth in 2024, with wholesale shipments forecasted to reach 350,000 units. This projection comes from the Spring 2024 issue of RV RoadSigns, a quarterly forecast prepared by ITR Economics for the RV Industry Association (RVIA)

“RV shipments are trending in the positive direction and on track for the moderate gains ITR Economics is forecasting in this latest report,” RVIA President & CEO Craig Kirby said in a News & Insights report of the association.

The anticipated range of RV shipments for 2024 is between 334,700 to 365,500 units, centering around a median total of 350,100 units. Such figures suggest an increase of 8.8 to 18.8 percent over the 2023 year-end total of 313,200 units, indicating a robust recovery and expansion within the sector.

“Our data shows a continued desire from consumers to purchase RVs and experience the joys and benefits of the RV lifestyle. We are hopeful that the expected decreases in interest rates and inflation this year will allow more consumers to follow through with their desire to purchase RVs,” Kirby added.

The report identifies several economic indicators that support the optimistic forecast for RV shipments. Notably, housing starts, which historically correlate with RV shipments, are expected to rise in 2024. 

Additionally, the expectation of lower interest rates could make RV financing more accessible to potential buyers. The combination of receding inflation and increasing incomes is also expected to create a more conducive environment for the purchase of discretionary items like RVs.

Members of the RV Industry Association have the opportunity to gain further insights into the forecast through a webinar hosted by ITR Economics. Scheduled for Thursday, March 14, at 1 pm Eastern, this webinar aims to provide an in-depth explanation of the forecast, allowing industry stakeholders to better understand the factors driving the anticipated growth.

The RV Industry Association’s efforts to provide detailed insights and forecasts through publications like RV RoadSigns and events such as the upcoming webinar with ITR Economics play a crucial role in supporting the industry’s stakeholders. For more information about the RV Industry Association, click here.

Article originally published by Modern Campground https://moderncampground.com/usa/2024-forecast-reveals-rv-industry-set-for-significant-growth-shipments-projected-to-hit-350000/

Viewpoint: Is IRS Abusing its Authority in Micro-Captives Investigations?

A pair of federal Tax Court decisions at the start of 2024 are painting a concerning picture that the IRS is abusing its authority and attempting to become a quasi-federal governing agency over the insurance industry. The IRS secured a pair of victories against a form of self-insurance for small businesses known as micro-captive insurance. The cases—Keating v. Commissioner and Swift v. Commissioner—used biased fact patterns to support the unfounded principle that all micro-captives are tax shelters or tax schemes.

Neither decision provided guidance nor clarification of how honest micro-captive owners should structure their captive arrangements to remain compliant with IRS regulations. Without such guidance, small to mid-size business owners are subject to open scrutiny at the whim of a federal agency attempting to seize regulatory control of an industry already regulated at the state level.

These victories are contrary to why the 831(b) tax code was written. Similar to what we are seeing today, this code was originally written during a time in which Americans were saddled by a hardened insurance market. Originally passed in the 1980s, Section 831(b) was designed to empower small to mid-sized insurance companies by excluding part of their income from taxation, allowing them to better compete with larger insurance providers and provide a vehicle of self-insurance against risks that may not be covered by insurance companies.

The 2015 Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act states that companies are eligible for this type of risk mitigation under Section 831(b) of the tax code when the owner of an insured business holds an interest in the insurer no greater than their interest in the business.

In January, IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel disclosed that nearly 1,100 micro-captives are under IRS investigation. Business owners and plan administrators who are caught up in these audits are then sifted through, with the IRS seeking only cases in which wins are virtually guaranteed. Instead of providing a conclusive determination for other taxpayers who can legitimately benefit from using an 831(b), the IRS uses its ambiguous scrutiny as a deterrent from using these plans, which in some cases can provide a lifeline to small to mid-size businesses.

The IRS has made clear its dislike of micro-captives and is working to eliminate them through its overreach of power and intimidation. This gross misuse by a bureaucratic agency directly contradicts congressional support for the existence of micro-captive insurance. To put it bluntly, the IRS is undermining the laws passed by our nation’s elected representatives and wants to put insurance regulation in the hands of the federal government.

In December, multiple members of the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Committee wrote to Werfel to express their disdain about the IRS’s treatment of micro-captives. The members of Congress called for the IRS to work with the insurance industry to develop a mutually agreeable path forward for small to mid-size businesses to utilize this section of the tax code without fear of retribution from the IRS.

The decision in Keating is concerning. In fact, the judge alluded to how the courts believed insurance companies should be regulated.

The McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945 provides the framework for how the insurance industry is regulated in the U.S.— the federal government can define insurance for federal tax purposes but is prohibited from overreaching into the regulation of insurance, which is instead left to the individual states.

Without action from Congress, or the IRS backing off its assault on our industry, the overreach of power toward micro-captive owners will likely continue, along with its efforts to eventually obtain federal oversight over other parts of the insurance business. The question of overreach by the IRS isn’t a question of if it will stop, but rather a question of when and how. The ripple effects will have far greater implications on the insurance industry as a whole than anything else that may come of this IRS case.

Van Carlson is founder and CEO of SRA 831(b) Admin. He has more than 25 years of experience in the risk management industry and started his career with Farmers Insurance Group.

Article originally published by Insurance Journal https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2024/03/27/766616.htm

Kansas car dealer indicted for rolling back odometers as cases surge nationwide

A Kansas businessman who was indicted Monday on charges connected to altering vehicle odometers is the latest case of odometer fraud in the United States, a crime that costs American car buyers more than $1 billion annually, according to federal authorities.

Adam Newbrey, 31, of Derby, Kansas, was charged with 27 counts of criminal misconduct, including odometer tampering, aggravated identity theft, and mail fraud, among other charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas said in a news release. According to prosecutors, he allegedly purchased used vehicles in Kansas and Oklahoma, and altered the odometers in 2020 and 2021.

Newbrey then used fraudulent documents to obtain vehicle titles from the Kansas Department of Revenue that reflected the falsified odometer readings, prosecutors claim. He is also accused of using the titles with the misrepresented mileage to defraud car buyers.

According to court documents, Newbrey operated three used car dealerships in Wichita: iDeal Motors, Midwest Wholesale, and Prestige Motors. In 2022, iDeal Motors was banned from legally selling cars in Kansas and was fined more than $159,000 following an investigation into consumer complaints about the dealership, KWCH reported.

Odometer fraud across the country is rising each year, according to data firm Carfax. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 450,000 vehicles are sold each year with false odometer readings causing consumers to lose over $1 billion annually.

Digital odometers make rollback scams easier

There is a misconception that odometer fraud has declined with digital odometers, according to Carfax research. Recent data suggests that more than 2.1 million vehicles were identified with rolled-back odometers in 2023, a 7% increase from the previous year and up 14% since 2021.

Before modern vehicles, odometers were rolled back manually on a mechanical instrument. But “odometers have since become digital, with the last round of mechanical odometers hitting the road in the early 2000s,” according to Carfax. Now, digital odometers can be rolled-back by removing a car’s circuit board or using equipment that fastens into the vehicle’s electronic circuit.

“Odometer fraud didn’t go away with the introduction of digital odometers,” Patrick Olsen, editor-in-chief at Carfax, said in a statement last December. “We’re still seeing the number of vehicles on the road with a rolled-back odometer rise year-over-year. It takes con artists only a matter of minutes to wipe thousands and thousands of miles off a vehicle’s odometer.”

Typically, higher mileage leads to depreciation in the value of vehicles. Fraudsters tamper with vehicle odometers to rollback the number of miles, deceiving buyers into thinking the car has a lower mileage and a higher purchase price.

As of February, the average used-vehicle listing price was $25,328 — down 4% from a year earlier — according to Cox Automotive. “Though used-vehicle prices are lower now versus 2022 and 2023, they remain much higher than in 2019,” Cox Automotive said in an article.

According to Carfax data, consumers lose an average of $4,000 yearly in rollback scams, which doesn’t include unexpected maintenance and repair costs.

California, Texas, and New York are among states with most rolled-back odometers

Last year, Carfax research found 10 states nationwide with the most cars with rolled-back odometers. Nine of the states saw a rise in rollback scams, while only one remained unchanged:

  1. California: 469,000, up 7.2%
  2. Texas: 277,000, up 12.8%
  3. New York: 100,000, up 9.0%
  4. Florida: 85,400, up 1.4%
  5. Illinois: 79,000, up 7.6%
  6. Pennsylvania: 69,600, up 2.1%
  7. Georgia: 67,600, up 4.0%
  8. Arizona: 57,000, up 4.8%
  9. Virginia: 56,000, unchanged
  10. North Carolina: 49,000, up 8.2%

How to protect yourself from rollback scams

Industry experts say odometer rollback fraud can easily be avoided. Experts recommend examining the vehicle and asking the seller questions about the car’s condition, including the odometer reading.

“If the car shows low mileage but has a lot of wear on the seats, pedals, tires, and steering wheel, that may be a sign that something is amiss,” according to Capital One Auto Navigator.

Capital One and Carfax also recommend the following tips to avoid rollback scams:

  • Check the car’s history report. Copies can be obtained from websites such as Carfax and AutoCheck.
  • Review vehicle documents, including the vehicle’s original title, which will show the car’s mileage at the time the title was created. Maintenance and repair records can also show mileage numbers.
  • Take the car to a mechanic to inspect its condition before buying

Anyone who suspects a seller committed fraud by rolling back the car’s odometer is advised to contact a state enforcement agency. Agencies that investigate odometer rollback cases differ from state to state, according to Carfax.

Article originally published by USA Today https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2024/03/18/car-dealer-indicted-rollback-odometer-fraud/73023396007/

April Newsletter

Spring has Sprung! This is our favorite time of year and not just because of the great April Fool’s pranks! It is our favorite because the weather changes, the return of baseball , The Masters tournament and it’s the unofficial start of our favorite season of all, Selling Season! 

Auto, Powersports and RV dealers all get excited for this time of year as customers get their tax refunds and head to their local dealership to indulge in a new purchase. Although there was a somewhat flat start to the year, optimism continues to build as more and more consumers are acclimating to the new norms of vehicle prices, interest rates, etc. 

Our markets have changed drastically over the last few years, and we are finding more and more dealers looking for ways to stay ahead of the curve, maintain COVID level profitability and maximize each transaction with as many products and profit as possible. 

At ADS, we pride ourselves on providing holistic solutions for dealers. Whether it be a dealer looking to mitigate the impending negative equity monsoon (see info and video below), a dealer looking to maximize their marketing and customer data spend (https://clientcommand.com/), a dealer looking to right size their reinsurance position after seeing a spike in loss ratio or a dealer looking to provide their sales staff an extra boost with some training and development solutions (see below for course registration), we at ADS have you covered. 

Of course, this in all in addition to our high-performance F&I training and development platform that we have been deploying and perfecting over the past 10-years. 

If you are a dealer who wants ‘More in ‘24’, then reach out to us to see if we are potentially a fit for what you are looking for. 

To view the full newsletter visit https://mailchi.mp/advdealer.com/april-newsletter-7ms0opj48u