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Your Friendly Neighborhood Banker Has Other Ideas

The next time you're shopping for a small-business loan, don't be surprised if your banker pitches insurance, too.

Thanks to the recent rollback in bank regulations, more lenders that cater to small companies are offering all kinds of coverage, from property and casualty to auto and life. It's easy to see why. Small businesses will spend $43 million on insurance this year, and banks want a piece of the action. They include Queens County Bank in New York and People's Heritage in Maine. Just one caveat: Banks as a group traditionally have been high-cost vendors of personal insurance and investments. Some limit your choices to a single insurer, which makes it less likely you'll get the best deal. Suggestion: get a bid from an independent agent before you sign up.

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