Battles Continue over Bank Insurance Rules
Bryant-Friedland, Bruce, The Florida Times Union
With Barnett Banks Inc.'s 1996 victory over state regulators in
the U.S. Supreme Court, banks won the war over their ability to
Now, in the wake of the decision, many Florida insurance agents
have been scratching their heads and wondering whether if you
can't beat the banks, maybe it will make better sense to join,
said William G. McCue Jr., the president of the Florida
Association of Insurance Agents.
In South Dakota, where banks have been able to sell insurance
for quite some time, 70 percent of insurance agencies are owned
or affiliated with banks. For the moment in Florida, there's
little danger of an overnight shift to banks.
Banks are restricted to selling insurance from a place of less
than 5,000 inhabitants.
There are 260 incorporated cities or towns in the Sunshine
State that have a population less than 5,000, said McCue.
Expanding beyond incorporated cities or towns increases the
number of places to about 3,000, he said.
Banks such as Barnett and First Union National Bank use the
site of their insurance business to sell by telephone throughout
Brochures in bank lobbies give out a toll-free number that
customers interested in insurance can call for information and
McCue said his Tallahassee-based trade association intends to
offer workshops in the coming year aimed at both agents who want
to hook up with banks and those who want to remain independent.
"We fought them the best we could," he said recounting a
long string of legislative victories against banks made moot by
the decision of the nation's high court. "It's not going to go
McCue's trade association is about to conduct a survey to see
how many of its members are interested in selling bank products,
he said. …