Bank holding companies’ sales of insurance products were up 9.6% year-over-year in the first quarter, according to the latest Michael White-Prudential Bank Insurance Fee Income Report.

Bank holding companies sold $3.32 billion worth of insurance in the first quarter, according to Michael White Associates’ analysis of data reported to the FDIC by 7,177 bank holding companies. Some 60.2% of such companies sell insurance.

The bulk of insurance bank holding companies sell falls under the category of property and casualty, according to Michael White, the study’s author and president of Michael White Associates in Radnor, Pa. An important caveat for advisors: The figures include life insurance sales, although these are “not all that great,” but don’t include annuities, which means bank reps’ contribution to the total is minimal at best. However, the results should be encouraging to advisors engaged in their clients’ total financial plan, White points out. The figures also include group life and health insurance sold through employers and a “modicum” of credit insurance.

The top five sellers of insurance include Wells Fargo ($531 million in insurance sales), Citigroup ($247 million), BB&T ($225 million), Bank of America ($140 million) and Morgan Stanley ($68 million), which reclassified itself as a BHC on September 2008, at the height of the mortgage crisis. The largest BHCs, those over $10 billion in assets, account for the lion’s share in insurance brokerage sales, at 94.1%, or $3.13 billion, in insurance fee income.

“It’s 50:50—some BHCs were up, some down,” White says, “So it’s hard to say in each instance, but overall it’s good news for BHCs.”

Bank holding companies insurance sales have actually been on a roll for the past six years, thanks to a soft market that forces underwriters to compete on price. While this isn’t so good for insurance agents, who typically earn a percentage of premium, early results for the second quarter suggest insurance sales will continue on their upward climb.

This story has been reprinted with permission from Financial Planning.

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