Like manufacturers seeking multiple distribution avenues, many life insurance companies have been looking for further sales channels. The bank channel, for one, has been gaining traction.

Joan Cleveland, a senior vice president of business development at Prudential Financial's individual life insurance division, said that, since the Newark, N.J., company started selling life insurance through banks a little more than a year ago, it has focused on middle-market consumers who have "really been underserved by the life insurance industry."

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