PIA Condemns OCC Bank Law Preemption Opinion in Mass.

March 20, 2002

The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) has condemned an opinion by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) that some provisions of a Massachusetts insurance law would be preempted under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) and therefore would not apply to national banks.

The controversy is similar to the dispute between the OCC and insurers in West Virginia over the application of the GLBA privacy laws to the insurance activities of federally chartered banks. In that suit the PIA and the IIAA are seeking to to have the OCC’s ruling overturned.

PIA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Patricia A. Borowski stated that “As in the West Virginia case, the OCC again exceeded its statutory authority by attempting to preempt consumer protection provisions in Massachusetts law. To permit the OCC to decide whether or not such provisions will apply to banks is an over-reach of its authority and contrary to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which affirms that insurance regulation is a function of the states.”

She indicated that by seeking to assert that insurance was “nothing more than another bank product,” the OCC was incorrectly interpreting the applicable law and is attempting to “usurp state regulation of insurance and impose a two-tier regulatory system — one for banks and one for all others in the insurance business.”

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