The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Oklahoma Insurance Department agreed Tuesday to share consumer complaints they get about insurance sales by national banks.

The deal is intended to be a model for one being hammered out between the OCC and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. It is the first of its type between the federal agency, which regulates national banks, and a state insurance regulator.

Any complaints that pertain to matters of federal law will be handled by the OCC, even if they were filed in Oklahoma. Complaints that are specific to Oklahoma law will be handled by the state agency.

An OCC spokesman said demand for the agreement came in response to the wave of banks launching insurance sales operations since a 1996 Supreme Court decision nullified prohibitions in many states.

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Julie L. Williams said in a statement that the agreement will protect consumers and "assure compliance with appropriate insurance sales standards."

"This is an important step in developing some degree of uniformity and cooperation between the banking and insurance regulators," said Kathleen W. Collins, Washington counsel for the Financial Institutions Insurance Association.

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