Lifesearch, Hargreaves Lansdown and Norwich Union are understood to be in a bidding war for the contract to sell protection insurance through supermarket giant Asda.
The pitch pits two competing models against each other with Lifesearch thought to be offering an advised service while HL and NU would offer a non-advised one.
Scottish Widows ended its contract to sell life insurance through the supermarket chain in September because the volume of sales was not as high as it had expected.
This left Asda open to approaches from other firms and three bidders are believed to be in the final stages of the tendering process with two of the final three thought to be intermediary distributors.
Hargreaves Lansdown and Lifesearch refuse to comment but it is understood that if HL won the contract it would set up a provider panel and sell direct to the customer through the panel.
If Lifesearch were to win the contract, it is thought it would sell through an advised panel sales process.
Norwich Union is the other company believed to be in the running for the contract to sell off-the-shelf policies but the life office refuses to comment.
NU sold life insurance through Tesco Personal Finance before losing the contract to Direct Line in 2005.
CBK principal Peter Chadborn says: “I would like to see a different distribution approach from a supermarket. It would be good to see them not taking the easy route and jumping into bed with a life office. If it were an IFA distributor linking up with it, then I think that would be a positive move.”