NU Online News Service, Jan. 23, 4:59 p.m. – BenefitMall Inc., Dallas, a company that distributes benefits through the Web, says a group of six investors is supplying $17 million in funding in exchange for stock.

MetLife Inc., New York, has joined the BenefitMall investor group for the first time, BenefitMall says.

Humana Inc., Louisville, Ky., a managed care company that helped create BenefitMall, is the only other carrier in the group. The other investors are venture capital companies.

BenefitMall set itself apart from other Web benefits brokers two years ago by promising to work with traditional insurance agents and brokers, rather than trying to cut them out of the game.

The company says it now reaches a network of 15,000 independent brokers and generates more than $1 million in new sales premiums each business day.

BenefitMall will use the cash from the investor group to improve its technology, add new services and reach new communities, the company says.