The insurance giant American International Group is planning several moves to build its business through commercial banks.
The New York-based company plans to introduce a long-term-care product and automated term-life insurance through banks early next year.
And the pending acquisition of SunAmerica Inc., the Los Angeles-based annuities underwriter, promises to jump-start sales of variable annuities through banks.
"I think we're looking at bank distribution ... as a major opportunity," said Gerald Wyndorf, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of AIG Life Cos.
Mr. Wyndorf said he expects the long-term-care product, based on one already sold through nonbanks, to be the first available through banks to receive Standard & Poor's AAA rating. The nonbank version has been popular with agents, and AIG is streamlining the initial application to suit the bank channel, he said.
The term life insurance will feature an automated application system. Once information is entered on-line, it will immediately appear at the underwriter, paramedic station, and financial underwriting desk, he said.
Uncomplicated applications will take a day, and those requiring additional steps will be processed in about two weeks, Mr. Wyndorf said.
Both products will be added to AIG's insurance offerings.
In the second quarter AIG sold $76 million of fixed annuities, to place ninth in underwriter sales through banks. In the hotter variable annuity market it sold just $2 million through banks, placing it 28th of 29 companies ranked.
"They've been a kind of second-tier underwriter of annuities through banks," said Kenneth Kehrer, a bank insurance consultant.
That could change once AIG's purchase of SunAmerica closes. The deal, valued at $13 billion to $14 billion, was announced in August.
"Now that we have SunAmerica we're going from being a niche player to being a global player" in variable annuities, Mr. Wyndorf said. SunAmerica sold $81 million of variable annuities through banks in the second quarter, placing eighth.