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FDIC Consumer News - Fall 2001

Important Update: Changes in FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage

The FDIC deposit insurance rules have undergone a series of changes starting in the fall of 2008. As a result, certain previously published information related to FDIC insurance coverage may not reflect the current rules. For details about the changes, visit Changes in FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage. For more information about FDIC insurance, go to www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/index.html or call toll-free 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342). For the hearing-impaired, the number is 1-800-925-4618.

  Special Report on FDIC Insurance 

Six Ways to Protect Yourself With FDIC Insurance

If you or your family have less than $100,000 in all your deposit accounts at the same insured institution, you don't need to worry about your insurance coverage. But if you have funds at one institution totaling $100,000 or more, and if it's important to you that all your funds be insured, here's a sensible approach for protecting yourself:

1 Make an accounting of all your accounts at the bank. "If you expect to conduct a thorough, accurate review of your deposit insurance," says Lesylee Sullivan, an FDIC insurance claims specialist in Dallas, "you need to be aware of all the accounts your family owns at an institution, the types of accounts, and the names of the beneficiaries." She notes that the beneficiaries especially matter with payable-on-death (POD) accounts because a spouse, child, grandchild, parent or sibling qualify the account for extra insurance but other relatives don't.

2 Read the FDIC pamphlet "Your Insured Deposits." This brochure, the FDIC's primary consumer publication devoted to deposit insurance, explains the rules in a simple, question-and-answer format. See "For More Information" for details about how to obtain a copy.

3 Consider asking "EDIE," the FDIC's Electronic Deposit Insurance Estimator. This interactive Web site estimates your coverage based on your answers to a series of questions about your accounts. EDIE is simple to use and can be accessed at the FDIC's Web site, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at Electronic Deposit Insurance Estimator.

4 Double check with an FDIC expert. Helping depositors and bankers with deposit insurance questions is a big part of the FDIC's work. So, for peace of mind, it's smart to get an independent confirmation of your understanding of the insurance rules and your insurance status from the FDIC. See "For More Information" for phone numbers and addresses.

5 Make adjustments to your accounts, if necessary, to bring them within the insurance limit. In general, there are two options for fully insuring deposits over $100,000.

First option: You can divide the funds among various types of accounts at the same institution, because different categories are separately insured to $100,000, but this is an option you need to think about carefully. "It means you are changing the legal ownership of the funds, either now or upon your death, just to increase your insurance coverage," says Kathleen Nagle, a supervisor with the agency's Division of Compliance and Consumer Affairs in Washington. "Before you do that, you should understand how a change in account category affects your rights and the rights of any beneficiaries to your funds." Example: You can shift some funds from a payable-on-death account to a joint account, but be aware that co-owners of your joint account will be able to access the money while you are alive.

Second option: You can move funds in excess of $100,000 to accounts at other insured institutions, and keep no more than $100,000 at each institution. This option works well for people who don't want, or don't qualify for, another type of account at their existing bank. Moving some funds to another bank also is a good choice for people who just aren't sure how the insurance rules allow them to keep more than $100,000 at one bank and still be fully protected, adds Washington-based attorney Christopher Hencke. "Your safest approach," he says, "is to divide your funds among several insured banks so that your total funds at any one bank do not exceed $100,000."

6 Periodically review your insurance coverage. A one-time checkup on your deposit insurance coverage isn't enough for individuals or families with close to or more than $100,000 at one institution. Here are suggestions for when to take another look:

Before you open a new account. Follow the steps described previously to find out what effect the new account would have on your insurance coverage. FDIC Chicago attorney Christine Tullio also suggests that you keep a list of the accounts that you and other family members hold at one institution, so you can easily remember which accounts to figure into your insurance calculations.

After the death of a loved one. The rules allow a six-month grace period after a depositor's death to give survivors or estate planners a chance to restructure accounts. If you fail to act within six months, you run the risk of, say, joint accounts becoming part of the survivor's individual accounts, and that could put the funds over the $100,000 limit.

If a large windfall comes your way. If you sell your house or receive a large payment from a trust, a pension, a lawsuit or an insurance claim, make sure any deposits, especially those made on your behalf by third parties, won't put you over the $100,000 limit.

If you own accounts at two institutions that merge, and the combined funds exceed $100,000. Accounts at the two institutions before the merger would continue to be separately insured for six months after the merger, and longer for some CDs, but you have to remember to review the accounts within the grace period to avoid a potential problem with excess funds.

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Last Updated 11/23/2001 communications@fdic.gov