Baltimore-based Provident Bancshares is the latest financial institution to launch an insurance program.

The $1.4 billion-asset banking company has licensed 100 platform personnel to sell a product that combines term and accidental dismemberment insurance.

"It's a quick, easy sale - an initial step," said J. Paul Phelan Jr., product manager at the bank's brokerage subsidiary, Provident Investment Center.

The product, called Protect 10, is being distributed to various banks across the country by Essex Corp., a third-party marketing company based in New York.

Underwritten by Continental Assurance Co., Protect 10 allows bank customers to get a $50,000 or $100,000 policy by merely filling out an application form in the back of a brochure.

Traditionally, customers must take medical examinations and answer a host of questions about their health and behavior as part of the application process.

Mr. Phelan said the bank hopes to add more sophisticated products soon. As it hires investment representatives, it is also looking for those with experience selling insurance, he said.

Provident's latest additions to its staff of eight investment representatives are two insurance agents who owned their own agencies, Mr. Phelan said. These representatives are working with the bank's business customers to offer estate planning products, Mr. Phelan said.

"We see insurance coming, so we want to get the right people in place," he said.

Mr. Phelan said the bank wants insurance sales to contribute 10% to the bottom line of its brokerage unit, which also sells annuities and mutual funds.

So far, Provident's insurance program is limited, he acknowledged, because the banking company is bound by a contract to sell only products that Essex offers.

Provident is selling fixed annuities underwritten by John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co. and the variable annuities of ITT Hartford Life Insurance Co.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.