Sixteen months after buying the largest property and casualty agency in Connecticut, People's Bank of Bridgeport is readying a broad marketing push for insurance. The $12 billion-asset thrift will begin radio and direct mail advertising of its insurance capabilities Oct. 1.

Instead of starting the advertising campaign right after the purchase of R.C. Knox & Co., People's delayed so thrift employees could be taught about insurance and familiarized with the new subsidiary, said Barbara P. Johnson, senior vice president and manager of the thrift's insurance services.

Ms. Johnson said People's also used the time to beef up its call center to handle insurance referrals. Initial marketing efforts will be focused on 22 of People's 127 branches to further refine the insurance approach, Ms. Johnson said. The thrift also intends to introduce and test-market a variable universal life product this fall, she said.

People's has long sold Savings Bank Life Insurance, but this year the 400 branch employees licensed to sell that term product will use a new questionnaire to identify the products product suited for each customer. Those best served by whole-life products will be referred to R.C. Knox, she said.

People's will also test-market variable universal life insurance this fall, Ms. Johnson said. The thrift is committed to having a wide insurance menu, she added.

People's last week announced a deal for a second agency, Beardsley, Brown Bassett of Fairfield, Conn.

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