customers through an arrangement with Answer Financial Inc.
The secondary-market loan company wants to make additional services available to customers without straying from its core business of student lending, said Paul Carey, an executive vice president.
"The Answer Financial offer is one of many that we hope to offer our customers," Mr. Carey said. Sallie Mae also places credit cards with its customers.
Every month the Reston, Va., company sends millions of mail pieces to customers. Now it will include contact information for Answer Financial in some mailings in return for an undisclosed flat fee, Mr. Carey said.
Sallie Mae chose Answer Financial because of its service quality and no-pressure sales approach, he said.
Answer Financial of Encino, Calif., markets insurance from 85 carriers to about 15 million customers through relationships with employers and affinity arrangements, said Alan Snyder, president and CEO. It has a hyperlink with Telebank.com and counts many credit unions as partners.
Mr. Snyder said Sallie Mae would be a significant business partner not only because of its current customer base but also because of the millions of parents and former customers it has dealt with. He said it's a significant opportunity.
"Sallie Mae has reinvented itself as a company," Mr. Snyder said. "They want to enrich their relationships with their customer population, and we can help them with it."
A Sallie Mae customer may contact Answer Financial by calling the company or logging on with a password to www.answercenter.com. Once on-line, people can browse among more than 3,800 pages of information Answer Financial has compiled to educate them about insurance without pitching specific products.
On the site, branded with the company's owl logo, customers considering life insurance can visit a section titled "why life." In addition to viewing backyard snapshots of an anonymous family, they can learn that every year 2 million people 25 to 75 years old die. "How much more painful and traumatic is the loss when suddenly there's no more money," reads part of the text on the page.
The site also explains the importance of insurance company ratings and how to read a policy. Each state's terminology and minimum policy requirements are also explained.
All this "allows the consumer to become, maybe for the first time, a smarter consumer," Mr. Snyder said.
When they're ready, customers can get quotes and application forms for auto, home, or life insurance; annuities; and other products.