Selling mutual funds could help banks sell life and other forms of insurance, a study concludes.

That's because the typical life insurance customer has first purchased mutual funds and savings bonds, according a study by SMR Research Corp.

Banks that sell these products to their customers could find it easier to subsequently sell them life insurance.

Budd Lake, N.J.-based SMR also found that most life insurance purchasers are middle-class or upper-middle-class couples who own their own homes and have children.

SMR developed the study by spending four months poring over data from the 1993 census. The reports included information about the spending and lifestyle habits of more than 35,000 people.

The types of consumers who are inclined to buy insurance mirror, to large extent, the kinds of consumers who do business with banks, said Leigh A. Smith, SMR vice president who oversaw the study.

The similarities between the customer groups make life insurance sales "a natural progression for banks," Mr. Smith said.

Among the study's other findings, based on 1993 information:

*78% of consumers had some kind of life insurance coverage;

*The median policy holder was 49 and averaged 13 years of education.

*The average face value of policies for individuals was $35,000; the average face value was $60,000 for households;

*Minorities carry the least amount of coverage.

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