Health insurer Bupa International and life insurer Zurich Life International have struck a deal to sell their products jointly around the world.
The two companies can expect to massively increase their revenues by offering policyholders a one-stop shop for both life and health cover.
The Zurich Group is one of the few insurance firms in the UK that does not have a health insurance arm.
In the UK, Bupa has around two-and-a-half million customers generating £1.25bn in premium income and Zurich Life International has a global income of £78m.
Worldwide, the two firms have nearly 40 million customers, covering 190 countries between them.
Bupa International general manager Bill Ward said the deal was prompted by the global consolidation of composite insurers.
“The likes of AIG and Allianz are now in a position to offer global companies complete services and we recognise that you must provide customers with the lot,” he said.
Ward added that the deal enabled the two groups to maintain their own brand identity. “We have both built up our reputations on our brands and a lot depends on them. But what we really want to do is start simple. A lot of alliances have failed because people wanted to go too quickly and made things too complex,” he said.
Zurich Life International chief executive Bernhard Schluep said: “We need to offer a full service as the market wants both healthcare and group life as one package.”
Zurich and Bupa already work with a similar network of brokers and many of the same customers.
The companies will also benefit from pooling their databases. Ward, though, ruled out cold-calling of customers.
“Under data protection rules, our customers are our customers as Zurich's are theirs.
“We have had discussions about customers but we won't contact them because we don't want to upset existing business relationships,” said Ward.