The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents plans to sue the government to prevent banks from selling insurance outside of small towns.
The suit, expected to be filed shortly, will charge that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency overstepped its authority when it gave First Union Corp. permission to allow agents to travel outside of small towns to sell insurance.
"We are going to court right away to put a stop to the OCC's attempts to guide banking and insurance policy by regulatory fiat," said Dean Sackett, the association's assistant vice president for government affairs.
An OCC official said the agency could not comment until it saw the suit. Banking industry officials were not surprised by the threat. "But in the end the Comptroller's Office opinion will be upheld by the courts," said Richard M. Whiting, general counsel at the Bankers Roundtable.