Magazine article American Banker

1st Union Builds Policy Menu in '1-Stop' Push

Magazine article American Banker

1st Union Builds Policy Menu in '1-Stop' Push

Article excerpt

First Union Corp. is quietly building an insurance sales effort that many say is more comprehensive than those attempted by rival banks.

Insurance executives say competitors are generally focusing on one type of insurance, but Charlotte, N.C.-based First Union has begun to offer term life, commercial property and casualty insurance, and even group health insurance for businesses.

"They're ahead of their time," said Bruce Long, president of New England Annuities, a division of New England Life Insurance Co., Boston.

The $140 billion-asset banking company's plan to build an insurance business is part of wider corporate strategy to become a one-stop shopping center of financial services. The company has cut a reputation for aggressively selling mutual funds and annuities, and insurance is the next part of the equation.

Judging the company's success to date is difficult. Officials at the bank refuse to release sales results, even to consultants. Nevertheless, First Union is throwing a variety of plans against the wall to see what sticks:

* To reach the masses, the bank is marketing low-cost term insurance through the mail and on the Internet. Last spring the company entered a selling agreement with Quickquote Insurance Agency Inc. in Incline Village, Nev. That company researches quotes of products for every category of policyholder and sells them to customers who telephone it or contact it over the Internet.

Among the carriers marketed include: First Colony Life Insurance Co., AIG Life Insurance Co., Jackson National Life Insurance Co., Provident Life and Accident Insurance Co.

"In the area of direct marketing term insurance, they're off to a quick start compared to some of the other bank programs we've helped start over the last year," acknowledged Bradley Powell, president of the financial institutions marketing group at Jackson National Life Insurance Co. …

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