Charles Schwab & Co. is expanding its marketing of no-load term and universal life insurance policies throughout the West, after a successful pilot program in California this summer.
With great fanfare in May, the San Francisco discount brokerage jumped into the business of direct-marketed life insurance with 10-year term and universal life products that promised simple application forms and no sales charges.
Schwab officials said their success at selling insurance close to home has supported plans to take the products nationwide. However, the brokerage refused to say how many policies have been written or how much premium income has been earned.
Jeffrey Benton, vice president for annuities and life insurance, said Schwab is "hitting the kinds of numbers we think we need to support a national program."
Satisfied that it has validated its direct-marketing approach with simplified insurance, Schwab now plans to expand into policies with terms of 1, 5, 15, and 20 years. It will also add a variable universal life product that allows policyholders to select a variety of investment options for the cash account, Mr. Benton said.
Last month, Schwab expanded marketing for the existing insurance policies to a dozen western states, roughly defined by circulation of the western edition of The Wall Street Journal, a primary advertising vehicle for the products, Mr. Benton said.
He declined to give any financial details for the product launching, saying, "Let's get it going nationwide, then we'll post the numbers."
Schwab's first batch of insurance products is registered in about 35 states. By early next year, the company expects to be offering the products nationwide.
The biggest accomplishment for companies trying unorthodox marketing approaches such as Schwab's "is successfully managing expectations," said Michael A. Prairie, an insurance consultant at Charter Oak Marketing and Financial Group, Southington, Conn.
"Somebody's got to figure out how to commoditize and simplify insurance products," Mr. Prairie said, "and it might just be Schwab that does it."