Monday’s announcement that Paris-based BNP Paribas would acquire the remaining 55 percent of the shares it doesn’t already own in Hawaii’s BancWest for $2.5 billion brings closer the day when banks will compete directly with insurance agents.
The “bancassurance” model already dominates the market for individual and small commercial policies in France and much of the rest of Europe. Homeowners, automobile, life, pension and financial service products are routinely offered through banks, rather than independent agents in Europe. Coverage is placed either directly with an insurance subsidiary of the bank involved, or through a major insurer who has formed a cooperative agreement with the bank.
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