Wells Fargo Private Bank has started a national life insurance business group that will focus on selling life insurance to affluent and high-net-worth clients.

Wells Fargo & Company, San Francisco (NYSE:WFC), a bank holding company with $1.2 trillion in assets, has been merging its own wealth management operations with those of Wachovia Corp., Charlotte, N.C., a large bank it acquired in December 2008.

Wells Fargo says the private bank unit wants to make life insurance an integral part of its wealth management services offering.

Stan Gregor, head of Eastern markets at Wells Fargo Private Bank, will oversee the insurance business, and Robert Chewning will be the national insurance sales manager.

“Typically following an economic downturn, business owners and wealthy individuals return to the fundamentals with a desire to refocus on life insurance as a way to manage their risk,” says Gregor says in a statement about the new business. “With our new business model in place, we will be well-positioned to serve clients for the increase in insurance demand that we anticipate during the recovery.”

Wells Fargo has hired 4 new senior directors of life insurance to head regional sales teams.

The senior directors are David Coggins, Mid-Atlantic and Carolinas regions; Dennis Tygart, Southeast and Florida regions; Matt Curran, Northeast and Pennsylvania-Delaware regions; and Steve Matter, Western region.

-as