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States enter into agreement with the OCC

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is in the process of promulgating a nationwide agreement between state regulators and federal regulators to share consumer insurance complaints.  The OCC is a federal bureau that charters and regulates over 1,900 national banks.  The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is comprised of the Insurance Commissioner of each state.  The two departments have been working together under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) to create a complaint sharing system.  This system, which involves the OCC and the State insurance regulator, sends each other copies of complaints sent in by consumers insofar as the complaints relate to insurance sales in a particular state by a national bank.  This will ensure that open lines of communication exist between the state and federal systems, and will keep regulatory policy similar between the two.

According to the terms of the agreement, a person goes to a national bank, such as Wells Fargo or NationsBank, and buys some type of insurance such as life insurance. Discovering that there is a problem with the policy, the consumer tries to work it out with the bank, but to no avail. So, the consumer calls the state's insurance department. The state insurance department then forwards the information to the OCC, which then contacts the bank in an attempt to resolve the complaint.

Likewise, if the OCC, not the state department, were to field the consumer's complaint initially, the OCC would forward the information to the correct state insurance department.

The idea of this agreement, as described by Kevin Mukri, previously a spokesperson for the OCC, and currently the Director of Press Relations at the OCC, is "to prevent a problem from occurring rather than answering an existing problem. We are acknowledging that, as bank sell insurance, a problem could arise." 

Since the establishment of the working relationship of the OCC and the NAIC in 1999, 28 state regulators have entered into agreements with the federal bureau, and 15 more have entered into negotiations with the OCC.

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