In an effort to become comprehensive financial service providers, some large insurers have taken an aggressive approach by forming their own banks.Banks, on the other hand, have carried out insurance expansion more conservatively-mainly through the acquisition of large agencies to drive insurance-product distribution through the bank branch.

In May, Bank One Corp., the nation's sixth-largest bank with assets of $287 billion, raised the stakes of most banks' foray into insurance when it inked a letter of intent to acquire Schaumburg, Ill.-based Zurich Life Insurance Co., an operating unit of Zurich Financial Services.

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