NU Online News Service, June 27, 2:07 p.m. — Two insurance agent groups will join Massachusetts in an escalating legal battle with federal authorities over state regulation of bank insurance sales, a spokesman for one of the organizations said today.
Massachusetts is suing U.S. Comptroller of the Currency John D. Hawke over his agency’s move to preempt a state law governing insurance sales by banks.
“We’re going to file an amicus brief this coming Monday supporting the Massachusetts suit,” said Ted Besesparis, vice president of communications for the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, Alexandria, Va.
Besesparis said the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, Alexandria, would also be joining as an amicus party.
The two groups already have their own lawsuit going against the comptroller over his move to exempt national banks in West Virginia from that state’s law regulating insurance sales and solicitations.
West Virginia state officials, unlike Massachusetts officials, have not challenged the comptroller’s action.
Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift, a Republican, said when she announced her state’s suit June 13 that the action was “based on the right of Massachusetts and every other state to not have an unelected federal bureaucracy overturn provisions designed to protect consumers.”
The Massachusetts action is being brought by Attorney General Thomas Reilly in the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Julianne M. Bowler, the insurance commissioner, and Thomas J. Curry, the banking commissioner.
The suit over the West Virginia law has been brought by agent groups in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. The National Association of Independent Insurers, Des Plaines, Ill. has joined that case with an amicus brief.
Massachusetts’ action stems from a March 18 ruling by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency preempting three Massachusetts statutes regulating insurance sales by banks. That ruling had been requested by the Massachusetts Bank Insurance Association, a division of the Massachusetts Bankers Association, Boston.