Essex Corp., a New York wholesaler of annuities, mutual funds, and life insurance, is marketing a simplified long-term-care insurance package designed for bank platform programs.

SimpleCare, to become available Feb. 1, features a one-page application, immediate approval for healthy applicants, and a pared-down list of benefit options. The insurance is to be issued by Essex's parent, Boston-based John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Co.

"Long-term care has always been complicated and expensive," said Kevin Crowe, chief executive officer of Essex. "What we tried to do was demystify the process."

By eliminating options such as length of benefit period and complicated inflation adjustments, he said, Essex has created a product that costs less and is easier for bank platform employees to sell.

Features include a two-year benefit period, nursing home and assisted-care-facility benefits, a 50% home care benefit, and inflation protection. A healthy 65-year-old seeking $100 a day in benefits would pay $620 for a year's coverage, Mr. Crowe said.

Gregory D. Vacca, insurance products manager of CalFed Investments Inc., the brokerage arm of San Francisco-based California Federal Bank, said equivalent underwritten coverage would probably cost a bit more - perhaps $650. In his experience, he said, most customers choose to pay up to $1,900 for a longer benefit period and a larger amount of coverage.

Still, Mr. Vacca said, CalFed will probably include SimpleCare among its long-term-care offerings.

"I don't think it will be a mainstay of our long-term-care sales, but it will be a good starting point," he said.

Essex offers a similar term life insurance program, which it markets through about 40 banks and thrifts, including Bank of New York and CalFed. The company has not signed up any bank to sell SimpleCare, Mr. Crowe said, but several have expressed interest.

Essex has obtained regulatory approval to sell SimpleCare in 39 states and expects to get approval in all 50 states by the end of January, Mr. Crowe said.

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