Standard Federal Bank for Savings, Burr Ridge, Ill., was in the property-and-casualty insurance business for about 10 years when its executives decided to shed its insurance subsidiary.
But Standard Federal still wanted to offer property-and- casualty insurance. So when Horton Insurance Agency, Orland Park, Ill., this month offered to buy the thrift's SFB Insurance Agency subsidiary and continue marketing the product to the savings and loan's customers, Standard Federal accepted.
Observers say that banks are likely sellers of property-and-casualty insurance, because people often buy it when they take out a loan for a home or a car. But many banks get frustrated with the slim profits the business generates.
"A lot of institutions are finding the P&C side has a long profit cycle and could take them five years or more to be profitable," said David Shapiro, an insurance consultant in Los Gatos, Calif.
"There's nothing wrong with the property-casualty business," said Jim Rensel, managing director at Q-Group Quality Insurance Resource Group, Tempe, Ariz.
"But unless you're fully committed to an aggressive approach, it's not going to give off the profits senior management at banks want."
So, many banks choose to sell the units they once coveted.
Indeed, Glenn Horton, president of Horton Insurance, said he was interested in buying an agency at the same time Standard Federal wanted to sell its insurance subsidiary.
After ironing out some final legal issues, Mr. Horton said his company would buy the thrift's insurance unit and would pay a fee to market to Standard Federal's future customers.
Standard Federal will continue to sell life insurance and annuities to its customers through its investment subsidiary.
David Mackiewich, president at Standard Federal, declined to discuss the thrift's insurance plans.
The deal between the agency and the thrift calls for Horton Insurance agents to staff one Standard Federal branch and conduct seminars at all 14 branches, Mr. Horton said. Standard Federal executives are sensitive to how their customers are treated by the outside insurance agents, Mr. Horton said, so the deal allows the thrift to terminate the agreement at any time.
Since banks' initial foray into the property-casualty business, many have lost patience waiting for profits, another consultant said.
Many banks bought their way into property-casualty insurance, said Valerie Jordan, at Jordan & Jordan, Belchertown, Mass.
"But what bankers don't realize is they have to know what they're doing" because the profits are slim, Ms. Jordan said.
So, many banks then spun off the agencies they had bought a few years earlier and partnered with an agency to sell the product to their customers.