NU Online News Service, Dec. 13, 6:22 p.m. – Liberty Life Assurance Company, a subsidiary of Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Boston, retained its lead in underwriting life and health insurance through banks in the first half of 2002, increasing new premiums generated through that channel to $58.2 million, from $45.4 million in the first half of 2001, reports Kenneth Kehrer Associates, Princeton, N.J., a financial services research firm.

Allstate Corp., Northbrook, Ill., just edged out AEGON USA for second place in new premiums in banks, increasing its take to $41.2 million during the first half, from $31.4 million. AEGON USA, a unit of AEGON N.V., The Hague, Netherlands, saw sales jump to $41.1 million, from $24.4 million.

Ranked by weighted premium, which gives more weight to recurring-premium sales than to single-premium products, Nationwide Financial Services Inc., Columbus, Ohio, retained its lead in banks, even though its weighted premiums in the channel fell from $19.4 million in the first half of 2001 to $18.9 million in the same period this year.

CUNA Mutual Group, Madison, Wis., was second in weighted premiums, with $10.4 million, up from $7.3 million, while the Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., Simsbury, Conn., came in third with $8.8 million, up from $7.2 million.