Responding to protests, the Office of Thrift Supervision said Tuesday that it will hold a public hearing to review State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.'s application for a thrift charter.

State Farm, the nation's largest property and casualty insurer, is seeking approval to establish a savings bank that would offer its policy holders mortgages, automobile loans, checking accounts, and other bank products and services. But consumer groups object to a provision in State Farm's application that would limit its responsibilities under the Community Reinvestment Act to its home base, the Bloomington, Ill., metropolitan area.

"We think their CRA assessment area should be wherever they do business, which would be the entire country," said Dan Immergluck, vice president of the Woodstock Institute, a Chicago-based activist group that represents low-income consumers.

State Farm is one of 12 major insurers seeking a thrift charter. The thrift, which would sell its products through its network of more than 16,000 agency offices, plans to initially serve customers in three states and eventually offer its products nationwide.

OTS spokesman William Fulwider said the agency has received five substantial objections to State Farm's application. Other community groups objecting State Farm's bid include the Greenlining Institute and the California Reinvestment Committee.

A date for the hearing has not been set by regulators.

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