A handful of small southeastern banks that recently entered the insurance business are breaking ground by offering business customers online quotes for life, disability, and other insurance products.

Community Bank Marketing Inc., which helps small banks enter the insurance business, and online insurer Access CoverageCorp, are cooperating to let banks' commercial clients buy insurance on the Internet.

Community Bank Marketing is a business unit of Bankers Bank in Atlanta, a correspondent bank that works with community institutions. The marketing unit's 35 members, with average assets of $120 million, are to have access to CoverageCorp's insurance products through the Bankers Bank Web site beginning in early October. The partnership is expected to make insurance shopping faster for businesses that now wait a day or two to get quotes and to complete purchases.

"Small banks have always been asking for the same capability as State Farm, where you can go and get a quote almost immediately," said Steven T. Aldrich, Community Bank Marketing's vice president of sales, referring to the insurance company. "They now have it through us."

Insurance agencies and larger banks have had this capability for some time, but the partnership enables community banks to offer insurance online for the first time, according to Mr. Aldrich and Frederick Waite, chief e-commerce officer at CoverageCorp, which is based in Charlotte, N.C.

Under their agreement, the two companies share revenues from insurance sales, and the business clients of the member banks get up-to-the-minute quotes. The partnership also takes CoverageCorp closer to offering its business insurance products inside banks, Mr. Waite said.

Mr. Aldrich said that many Community Bank Marketing members had asked for Internet insurance access. He was attracted to CoverageCorp, Mr. Aldrich said, because it uses the same underwriting technology as many major insurance companies and could quote rates efficiently. CoverageCorp's virtual insurance platform is used by American International Group Inc. and Allied Insurance Inc., among other large insurers.

Community Bank Marketing members are just a fraction of the more than 800 banks in nine southeastern states that belong to Bankers Bank, but Mr. Aldrich said he expects a membership increase prompted by the online insurance purchasing service.

"All banks are looking to meet customer need as quickly as possible," Mr. Aldrich said. "I think that with this capability many more banks will get into insurance."

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