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Intuit, CUC to do insurance deal

The two companies next week will announce a service to help banks sell term life insurance online.

Intuit (INTU) and giant consumer marketer CUC International (CU) are expected to announce on Tuesday a service to help banks sell term life insurance online.

The new SureQuote offering, due to launch by March, will help banks offer term life insurance via bank Web sites, toll-free call centers, and in bank branches where bank employees use the software while talking to customers.

"Our research indicates consumers want real-time quotes from multiple carriers that they can compare online," said Mark McCrery, vice president of marketing for Intuit's Interactive Insurance Services (IIS) subsidiary. SureQuote will deliver those features for term life policies.

Although it will start with term life, CUC said disability, long-term care, and some property/casualty lines may be added in the future.

The new service represents another step in Intuit's campaign to patch up relationships with banks, which have feared that Intuit's Quicken personal finance software might cause consumers to turn to Intuit, instead of a financial institution, as their primary vehicle for money matters. Intuit chairman Scott Cook has worked hard this year to court bankers.

CUC, a membership-based consumer shopping service, operates Web superstore netMarket for online consumer, travel, and auto services, and it has a major online shopping deal with America Online.

In SureQuote, Intuit's division acts as technology provider, while CUC contributes its mass-marketing expertise and banking contacts. CUC's Essex subsidiary already markets annuities, mutual funds, and insurance on behalf of banks.

The system, billed as a turnkey insurance service for banks, will allow bank customers to obtain price quotes on term life policies from multiple insurers from bank Web sites, via a toll-free number that CUC will operate on behalf of banks, or in person, consulting with bank officers.

Initially, Transamerica Life and Lincoln Benefit Life will offer quotes, with other carriers expected to join shortly after launch--including CNA, First Colony, and New York-based American Mayflower Life.

Consumers can shop for insurance, compare rates, and accelerate the application process by sending information directly to a particular insurance carrier.

SureQuote also features online transaction tracking so bank personnel can monitor the status of insurance applications. It also will have reference material on insurance products and a tool to analyze a consumer's need for insurance.