A banking company here has increased the amount of free insurance it is offering customers to hook them on other products.

Last week, Peoples Heritage Financial Group sent out offers for $3,000 of free accidental death and dismemberment coverage to 68,000 customers.

That's $2,000 more than a typical offer of this kind, said Kenneth Kehrer, a bank insurance consultant.

"We're making consumers more aware of insurance" through this offer, said John R. Curran, president of Morse, Payson & Noyes Insurance, a bank subsidiary.

The banking company offers term and whole life coverage, as well as property and casualty. Additional insurance purchases more than cover the offer's cost, Mr. Curran said.

The company said it expects that about one-third of adult customers will return a flyer to accept the free insurance, said Amanda M. Bennett, a Morse, Payson & Noyes vice president in charge of the program.

"What I'm hoping is that it gets people in the mind-set to buy some type of products through this venue," Ms. Bennett said.

"We're switching from the kitchen table location to the bank lobby."

The insurance plan, underwritten by Unum Life Insurance Co., also based in Portland, gives most adult checking customers the option of $3,000 in free coverage.

Those 70 and older are eligible for $1,500 worth.

Peoples Heritage's insurance unit, which has sold coverage to nearly 1,000 bank customers, operates independently from the bank.

Indeed, Mr. Curran said, he still refers to the bank as "they" in conversation.

Ms. Bennett said she hopes customers move to more complete forms of insurance.

Peoples Heritage is working with insurers to develop new life and health products tailored to the bank channel, she said.

These are expected to require more than direct mail to sell, but they will build upon the free offer, she said.

She agreed that the offer serves just a small portion of customers' needs but said it could be a first step for underinsured, middle-income bank customers.

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