<p>WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Insurance companies continue to expand their banking operations in 2002. As the lines between insurers, financial institutions and securities firms become more blurred, many insurance companies are taking full advantage of the 1999 federal reform of financial service regulations by offering consumer-banking services. Wanting to position themselves as the "complete" financial service provider to their policyholders, many have obtained federal thrift charters. While Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance is planning to specialize in trust services, other insurers, including Aetna; American International Group; The Hartford; Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.; State Farm Mutual; MetLife Inc.; and Prudential Insurance Co. of America are looking to offer one-stop banking. Consider Allstate Bank's recent financial services push. What started as a way for Allstate Insurance Co. customers to make premium payments directly from their checking accounts – Allstate Bank now offers Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-insured CDs, money market, savings, and checking accounts to supplement the annuities and mutual funds already offered by Allstate Financial. Consumers access their Allstate Bank accounts through Allstate agencies, on the Internet, by phone, or through automatic teller machines. Allstate Bank has plans to be available in all 50 states by the end of 2002. [email protected]</p>

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