Office of Thrift Supervision Director Ellen Seidman assured state insurance commissioners Monday that her agency is not gunning for their jobs.

"OTS is not in the business of regulating or overseeing the insurance activities of insurance companies," Ms. Seidman said. "We are striving for cooperative functional regulation."

Ms. Seidman spoke to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' quarterly meeting in Boston at a time when insurance companies are lining up to charter thrifts.

She reminded the commissioners that insurance companies have owned thrifts for years. "What is new is the recent increase in applications for a thrift charter by insurance companies and the variety of business plans contemplated by them," she said.

Of the 46 requests for charters pending at the OTS, 16 are from insurance companies, she said.

Though the agency has the right to examine all of a thrift holding company's affiliates, the agency generally limits its focus to the thrift and its dealings with the parent, Ms. Seidman said.

She reminded the state regulators of the numerous constraints the government puts on transactions between thrifts and their parent companies. For example, a thrift may not lend to affiliates engaged in activities that are not permitted to bank holding companies.

"This bar serves as an absolute limitation on a thrift's ability to engage in the types of affiliate commercial lending that is at the heart of the concern with the mixing of banking and commerce," she said.

- Barbara A. Rehm

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