CUSO Makes Insurance A 'Turn Key' Offering

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NEW YORK-United Nations FCU Financial Advisors has launched Turn Key Insurance Center to offer its insurance services-a potential source of income-to other credit unions.

Financial Advisors President Stephen Ryerson said the new platform can "give credit unions a tremendous step up in what they could offer their members," such as home and auto, life and personal property insurance services, with quotes drawn from as many as 40 carriers, depending upon the product.

"We believe that while many people may want to access this information online and generate quotations, they also want to speak to someone," said Ryerson. "So all of our online platforms ... offer the ability to call in and speak to a licensed person who is an expert and is experienced in that area."

The CUSO does not currently charge for the service. Ryerson said that the cost to CUs comes primarily from "the technical work of developing a site," which "typically doesn't cost more than $2,500."

"We want a commitment that this is important to them," Ryerson continued. "The products do not sell themselves from sitting on the website. We're not going to charge a credit union a monthly fee, but we expect them to collaborate with us to have an effective marketing strategy."

Participating CUs are responsible for marketing to members, although UNFCU Financial Advisors does provide some materials, such as web banners. On the website itself, UNFCUFA can have as little or as great a presence as the CU wishes, said Ryerson.

The $3.2-billion United Nations FCU has offered insurance services for the last few years, said Ryerson, and the business grew by about 30% during 2010. He noted that offering products such as insurance-which provide CUs with non-interest income-is particularly important right now due to a weak economy, declining loan volumes and fees associated with NCUA assessments.

"The overall goal here is to continue to build what is a very effective fee business by providing valuable products to members," said Ryerson. Beyond that, he said, there is very compelling data that "when members start to use products like insurance and investments, those members become sticky and you become their primary financial institution."

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