Which kinds of accounts are FDIC insured?

September 27, 2008 8:16:14 AM PDT
Economic uncertainty has many consumers worried about the security of their bank accounts and other funds. Out of the Great Depression came the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, which is designed to limit the effect on the economy if a bank fails.

The FDIC may or may not be the fine print of customers' accounts. So, experts say now is a good time to see what is and what is not insured.

Consumers work hard for their money and want it available when they need it. So, some are taking a closer look at where their money goes and whether it is insured.

"If it was insured, I guess it would help my nerves. I'd like to be with a bank that I don't see on the news all the time. That would be great," said Kelly Schwartz.

"I probably glanced at it five or six years ago, and then all this started happening, and I've been making sure," Len Blanchard said.

The FDIC insures checking, savings, trust, CD, IRA retirement and money market deposit accounts, not to be confused with money market mutual funds. Account holders are insured up to $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for couples.

On the other hand, the FDIC does not insure mutual funds, annuities, life insurance stocks and bonds.

"The vast majority of banks are FDIC insured. The FDIC has been around for 75 years and has never had a customer lose a penny for any of the funds that they insure," said Jason Tyler, senior vice president at Ariel Investments.

Tyler also says efforts by the federal government to insure Americans' money and calm nervousness is welcomed.

"The government rightly is looking at whether it needs to extend insurance to non-traditionally government-backed accounts," he said.

At Mesirow Financial, the senior economist is seeing financial institutions taking a more conservative approach.

" When the market is under pressure, panic is the wrong answer. Don't expect to go and make adjustments and to save your savings if you're acting on the condition of panic," said the company's Adolfo Laurenti.

Laurenti gives the same advice to private investors: find insured accounts for your money, and if you have time to wait, take some risks. That's tolerable.

"It's always ideal to have a long-term plan and to stick to it; just don't cave in to the pressure of the moment," Laurenti said.

Most banks are FDIC insured, but if a bank fails, the account holders will have access to funds usually by the next day.

It is worth noting that money market mutual funds had not been insured, but last week, the U.S. Treasury took an extraordinary step to protect those accounts. Extra protection is among the things lawmakers are discussing in Washington, whether they need to add more insurance. That could be part of the disagreement.

To learn more about what's covered by the FDIC and what's not, visit http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/consumer/information/fdiciorn.html


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