Wachovia Corp. on Thursday announced plans for a broad expansion of its retail insurance sales program.

The $65 billion-asset banking company, which now has 17 employees who sell life, disability, and long-term care policies, said it would add 132 employees to the sales effort by March 31.

The company's cadre of 130 investment counselors would account for the bulk of the buildup. These employees, who sell mutual funds and other investment products to mass-market customers, would begin selling life insurance in the Carolinas and Georgia. Ten have been selling life insurance policies in North Carolina under a pilot program that began last year.

In addition, Wachovia said it would hire 12 insurance representatives to serve private banking and small-business customers in a limited number of markets, bringing the roster to 19 insurance specialists.

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