Holders of joint accounts could gain additional insurance coverage under a proposal unveiled Tuesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

As part of an ongoing effort to simplify regulations, the FDIC wants to remove the $100,000 insurance cap on joint accounts held by the same owners. Under the proposal, each owner of a joint account would be insured up to $100,000.

For example, under current rules, a couple that holds $150,000 jointly is prevented from receiving complete coverage for the account. Under the proposed change, their $150,000 would be fully covered and each person would have an additional $25,000 in remaining insurance for other joint accounts at the institution.

FDIC Chairman Ricki Helfer said depositors need more streamlined coverage rules. "Bank customers have trouble understanding some provisions in our deposit insurance regulations," she said.

In other action at Tuesday's board meeting, the FDIC voted to leave bank and thrift deposit insurance premiums unchanged, retaining the dramatic disparity in rates paid by the two industries.

"The board has no alternative but to retain current premium levels," said Ms. Helfer. "But there's a very real artificiality created by charging thrifts a higher price for the same product."

Currently thrifts' annual premiums are 23 cents per $100 in domestic deposits while healthy banks, 93% of that industry, pay essentially zero.

Chairman Helfer and other bank regulators are pushing a plan before Congress that would level premiums by capitalizing the Savings Association Insurance Fund with a one-time assessment on thrift deposits.

The FDIC also announced that the Bank Insurance Fund's net income dropped 77% to $295 million in the first quarter of 1996, from $1.3 billion a year earlier. The drop was due almost entirely to the decrease in insurance premiums from a year ago.

The thrift fund's quarterly income rose to $292 million, up $13 million from first quarter 1995. Assessment revenue from thrifts provided $251 million in revenue, compared with $249 million in first quarter 1995.

The bank fund's liability for anticipated failures decreased $39 million to $240 million since Dec. 31, 1995. The savings association fund's estimated liability for thrift failures stood at $108 million, compared to $111 million at the end of 1995.

FDIC officials estimated the thrift fund should be capitalized by 2001.

Tuesday the FDIC board also proposed other deposit insurance changes including:

*Allowing the FDIC to look beyond account records to determine true ownership of deposits held by custodians such as attorneys or title companies.

*Providing a grace period after a depositor's death before reducing insurance coverage on his accounts.

In addition to deposit insurance rules, the FDIC is considering easing requirements on state nonmember banks that allow outside brokers to sell securities on their premises. Specifically, the FDIC is seeking comments on whether the brokers' transactions should be reported to the FDIC.

The FDIC also adopted a policy statement holding a bank's board and senior management responsible for adequate oversight of interest rate risk exposure. The policy describes prudent practices for interest rate risk management, but the FDIC rejected plans to require banks with too much interest rate risk to raise more capital.

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