WASHINGTON — Thousands of insurance agents in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey will be able to sell banking products from their own thrift starting in spring 2001.

The Office of Thrift Supervision on Friday granted a charter to the Independent Insurance Agents of America and several corporate partners for a full-service thrift called InsurBanc. Agents will market the Farmington, Conn.-based thrift’s loan and deposit products — including mortgages, home equity and installment loans, lines of credit, and credit cards — to customers in exchange for referral fees.

“They have seen a number of banks in their areas moving into the insurance business, and they see this as a way of leveling the playing field,” said Robert A. Rusbuldt, the agent association’s executive vice president and chief financial officer.

The three states have about 3,000 independent insurance agencies. The Alexandria, Va., agent association ultimately hopes to expand the thrift so its 300,000 members across the country can take advantage of it.

InsurBanc, headed by president and chief executive officer Michael W. Herilhy, will be co-owned by the association and three other companies. The other partners are: Greenwich, Conn.-based W.R. Berkley Corp., a property and casualty insurance company; and two W.R. Berkley subsidiaries based in Florham Park, N.J. — Signet Star Holdings Inc. and Signet Star Reinsurance Co.

The owners provided $14.5 million of start-up capital for the thrift, which will open March 31 once it meets OTS requirements to develop training and policy manuals for agents and establish a detailed program to assure compliance with fair-lending and other consumer protection laws.

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