By summer's end five banks will be using a new Internet service meant to streamline term-insurance applications.
SureQuote lets banks get quotes from multiple underwriters of term-life insurance, file applications electronically, and track filed applications.
Branch representatives can access the service, as can phone representatives or customers surfing a bank's Web site.
SureQuote is customized with the bank's logo, said Seth Friedman, a spokesman for Essex Co., New York, which developed the service with Intuit Inc., Mountain View, Calif.
Subscriber banks pay $5,000 for setup and $1,000 a year for maintenance to Essex and Intuit, which also get an undisclosed portion of the general agency fee for sales.
The tracking feature is a first for banks, Mr. Friedman said. Sales representatives can punch a few keys and get electronic access to a pending application.
"Doing it manually would be a phenomenal problem," said Kenneth Fetrow, president of York (Pa.) Federal Savings Bank's First Capital Brokerage and Insurance Services Inc., which began using the site about two weeks ago.
It is crucial to quickly answer customer questions about a stalled application, Mr. Fetrow said. To find out whether a doctor's exam is missing or another problem would take numerous phone calls and paper searches, he said. SureQuote finds the sticking point fast, Mr. Fetrow said.
Customers cannot use the tracking feature directly.
In addition to York Federal, Dime Savings Bank of New York is already using the service. Essex said that National Bank of Commerce and First Tennessee Bank, both in Memphis; ABN Amro (Standard Federal, LaSalle, and European American Bank); and the brokerage house Fahnestock & Co. of Kalamazoo, Mich., are about to go on-line.
Under SureQuote, unlike paper-based systems, one set of questions can generate quotes or applications for any of the participating underwriters.
"It's offering us an array of ways to get different quotes," Mr. Fetrow said. He said it is important to provide multiple quotes to customers because just one or two would be a disservice.
Products from the underwriters CNA, John Hancock Life Insurance, Lincoln Benefit Life, and Transamerica Life Insurance Cos. are already available on the service. First Colony Life joins the menu in the fall.
York Federal liked not only the five insurers but also the involvement of well-known Intuit, Mr. Fetrow said. Intuit's products, such as Quicken, are recognized by customers for their quality, he said.
York, which already uses Essex's simplified Protect10 term life insurance, said SureQuote is affordable. "It's the best deal we saw," he said.