Commerce Bancorp, a $3.8 billion-asset banking company in Cherry Hill, N.J., said Monday that its insurance subsidiary is acquiring an employee and executive benefits consulting firm.

Terms of the deal for Associated Insurance Management Inc., Haddonfield, N.J., were not disclosed.

The company, a specialist in developing medical and managed care insurance programs, would operate as a unit of Commerce National Insurance. Commerce Bancorp launched the insurance subsidiary in July 1996 and has since bought four insurance agencies.

David Flaherty, Commerce's vice president for corporate communications, said the move into employee benefits is "a natural extension of what we do." The bank's niche is lending to small and midsize businesses, and its insurance unit specializes in commercial insurance.

The bank said that with the addition of Associated Insurance and other pending acquisitions, Commerce National Insurance's 1998 premium volume is expected to exceed $200 million.

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