Sensing untapped riches in the insurance space, some of the deepest pockets in private equity have unveiled plans to launch a new insurance agency. The agency, dubbed Insphere Insurance Solutions, is backed by affiliates of The Blackstone Group, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse.

Former New York Life executive Phillip Hildebrand has been named as CEO for Insphere, which is expected to field a force of 3,500 agents and offices in more than 40 states, will focus on offering life, health, long-term care and retirement products to small businesses.   “Insphere Insurance Solutions will be exclusively focused on the under-served small business and the middle-income market,” Hildebrand said in a statement. “This market has been largely ignored by major insurance carriers and agents who have migrated to serve more affluent consumers. This has resulted in a scarcity of distribution in this market.”   To buttress this claim, the company cites a study by the Life Insurance and Market Research Association (LIMRA) that found 44% of the middle market considered themselves under-insured on life insurance. Insphere says insuring this group would add $9.5 trillion in insurance and $17 billion in premiums, according to the report.   The company is in discussions with a number of leading life, health, long-term care and retirement carriers to offer insurance products. Insphere has already inked an agreement with ING to begin marketing insurance policies on a pilot basis in 90 days.   Hildebrand said the organization will leverage its financial and technological assets to good affect.   "Because of our size and scale, we expect to be able to offer significant infrastructure and support for field managers and agents including lead generation, training, compliance, marketing and technology capabilities,” he said. “We also believe our compensation will be unique, with an equity compensation component expected to be offered to both field managers and agents.”

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