Sony Corp. plans to enter the nonlife insurance business in the latter half of 1999, the firm said Wednesday.

In preparation, Sony established a company for its new business the same day and said it plans to apply for a license early next year. “We hope to utilize the marketing ability we have obtained through sales of our audiovisual products, life insurance and credit cards,” a Sony spokesman said.

The electronics giant already sells life insurance through subsidiary Sony Life Insurance Co., which was set up in 1979. Within the group, another financial firm, Sony Finance International Co., conducts Sony’s lease and credit card businesses.

Having financial companies will assure the group of stable revenues in the long run, the spokesman said. Instead of using insurance agents, Sony plans to directly sell nonlife insurance products such as auto insurance by telephone or the Internet to reduce operational costs.

To make its products competitive, it will also offer discount premium rates for policyholders who have no prior accidents. Sony’s announcement came as Japan’s auto insurance premium rates were liberalized Wednesday.

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