This guide will help familiarize you with the consumer complaint resolution process for bank insurance sales activities. Recent changes in Massachusetts' law now make it permissible for Massachusetts-chartered banks and certain other lenders such as small loan companies and mortgage lenders to engage in the sale of insurance products. The solicitation and sale of insurance by banks may only be conducted by licensed personnel of the institution to the extent required by applicable insurance laws and regulations.

The Massachusetts Division of Banks, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Office of Thrift Supervision are the primary bank regulators of state-chartered banks, national banks, and federally-chartered thrift institutions, respectively. The Division of Banks is also the regulator of mortgage lenders licensed under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 255E, and small loan companies licensed under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 140, section 96. The bank regulators are responsible for ensuring that banks or lenders which engage in insurance sales do so in a safe and sound manner with proper internal control procedures.

The Massachusetts Division of Insurance is responsible for enforcing the Commonwealth's insurance laws and for the licensing of insurance agents and brokers. The Division of Insurance can also issue licenses to banks to sell insurance. Both the banking and insurance regulators are responsible for ensuring that banks and lenders that engage in insurance sales do so in full compliance with applicable licensing and consumer protection laws and regulations.

The law granting banks the authority to engage in the sale of insurance products also provides important consumer protections relative to the sale of insurance.

You Should Know.....

Banks may not tie the availability or extension of credit by the bank to the purchase of insurance products from the bank.

Written disclosures are required to be given to potential insurance customers which make it clear that insurance products available through the bank are not deposits of the bank; are not protected by FDIC or other type of deposit insurance; and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the bank and may be subject to risk.

Banks are required to disclose that any insurance required as a condition of credit need not be purchased from the bank but may be purchased from a source of the customer's choice.

Procedures must be in place to properly safeguard customer confidential information.

Customers must be informed that complaints may be filed with the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.

Customer Complaint Resolution

Banks are required to adopt consumer complaint resolution procedures and to designate personnel who will be responsible for the enforcement of these procedures. Banks must forward all customer complaints to the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and must take reasonable steps to investigate all customer complaints. Banks must also make a good faith effort to resolve complaints in a timely manner.

What to Do If You Have a Complaint

If an insurance-related problem cannot be solved initially through direct contact with the bank, a consumer should contact the following:

Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
10 Park Plaza, Room 5170
Boston, MA 02116
1-888-283-3757
E-mail: consumer@state.ma.us

After an initial review, this office will refer the complaint to either the Division of Banks or the Division of Insurance. In the complaint the consumer should state why he or she believes there is a problem, the steps taken to resolve the dispute, and the bank or company's response. Attach copies of any letters, documents, contracts, or receipts pertinent to the complaint (DO NOT SEND ORIGINALS). Please include the type of insurance policy, dates of transactions, correspondence received, etc. Also, be sure to include the full names, titles, addresses, and telephone numbers of any bank or insurance company employees dealt with.

Each Division will make every effort to bring about a satisfactory resolution to complaints in a timely manner. Occasionally, a resolution may not lie within the jurisdiction of either Division. If this is the case, a consumer may be advised to seek an attorney, to sue in Small Claims Court, or to seek a response from another agency.

Massachusetts Regulatory Agencies

Consumer complaints can be submitted to the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation or to the following agencies:

  • If you have a complaint or inquiry relative to Massachusetts-chartered financial institutions or licensees contact:

Consumer Assistance Office
Massachusetts Division of Banks
1000 Washington Street, 10th Floor
Boston, Massachusetts 02118-6400
Consumer Line (617) 956-1501
Administration (617) 956-1500
Website: http://www.mass.gov/dob

  • If you have a complaint or inquiry relative to an insurance agent or broker contact:

Massachusetts Division of Insurance
Consumer Service Section
1000 Washington Street, Suite 810
Boston, Massachusetts 02118-6200
Consumer line (617) 521-7777
Administration (617) 521-7794
Website: http://www.mass.gov/doi

  • If you have a complaint or question involving your rights as a consumer you may contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation or

Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Division
One Ashburton Place
Boston, Massachusetts 02108
(617) 727-8400

  • If you have any questions or complaints relative to discrimination contact:

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination
One Ashburton Place, 6th Floor
Boston, Massachusetts 02108
(617) 727-3990 ext. 557

  • If you have any questions or complaints relative to a federally-chartered commercial bank contact:

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Customer Assistance Group
1301 McKinney Street, Suite 3450
Houston, Texas 77010
1-800-613-6743

  • If you have any questions or complaints relative to a federal savings and loan or federal savings bank contact:

Office of Thrift Supervision
Department of the Treasury
1700 G Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20552
202-906-6000