Chevy Chase/Government Services Savings and Loan, the largest privately insured savings institution in Maryland, has applied for federal deposit insurance and plans to pull out of the Maryland Savings Share Insurance Corp.
The decision to seek insurance from the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp. was made some time ago and is not related to the recent Ohio bank holiday that raised questions about the adequacy of private deposit insurance plans, said a spokesman for Chevy Chase.
Maryland's Savings Share Insurance is similar to the private Ohio insurance plan that was virtually wiped out when one state S&L lost more than $100 million in fraudulent government securities trading.
MSSIC President Charles Hogg said yesterday that executives of the Maryland fund "have not had any indication that any of our institutions has experienced any unusual withdrawals" since the Ohio crisis began two weeks ago. Nor has there been any widespread defection of members to the FSLIC, Hogg added, indicating that "one or two" MSSIC members are seeking federal insurance.
Even though Chevy Chase/Government Services is the biggest and one of the healthiest members of MSSIC, its loss "would not be a detriment to us," Hogg said.
Chevy Chase S&L and its wholly owned Government Services subsidiary have combined assets of $2.3 billion -- almost one-third of all the assets insured by MSSIC. The 101 MSSIC members have about $7.2 billion in deposits.
Chevy Chase submitted its application to the FSLIC last August as part of a long-range strategy of complying with changes in federal banking regulations that will go into effect next year, said a top executive who asked not to be named.
By March 1986, state-chartered savings and loan associations will no longer be able to pay higher interest rates than federally regulated institutions, explained the spokesman. Elimination of that rate differential and other advantages of state insurance takes away a major incentive for remaining with MSSIC.
He said Chevy Chase Savings already meets the financial standards needed to qualify for federal insurance, which will cost slightly less than MSSIC coverage. Another reason for seeking federal deposit insurance, he said, is that "some customers are just more comfortable with FSLIC insurance."
Financial statements for Chevy Chase and Government Services show that as of last Dec. 31, the two had a combined net worth equivalent to 6.2 percent of their total assets, based on accounting methods used by government regulators. The Federal Home Loan Bank Board requires a minimum net worth of 5 percent to qualify for federal deposit insurance. Bank board officials said that as a matter of policy neither the board nor the FSLIC comment on pending applications. The spokesman said FSLIC has had no rush of new applications since the Ohio crisis began.
As part of its plan to reopen the Ohio savings associations, the state legislature last week required all state-insured associations to apply for federal coverage.
Federal legislation was introduced last week by Rep. James Leach (R-Iowa) that would require all depository institutions to have either federal insurance or insurance from a private fund that meets federal standards.
FDIC Chairman William Isaac has endorsed proposals requiring all banks and savings associations to have federal insurance.
Since the collapse of the Ohio Deposit Guarantee Fund, only four states continue to make extensive use of private deposit insurance -- Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.
Advocates of private insurance contend it offers a cheaper alternative to federal coverage with less red tape to hamper smaller financial institutions. The Ohio crisis raised questions about both the regulative ability of the private plans to practice preventive medicine and their financial capacity to handle the failure of a large customer. Concerns about the adequacy of Maryland's regulation of privately insured S&Ls have prompted legislation by State Sen. Howard Denis (R) providing an extra $1.5 million a year for state audits.
MSSIC has cash reserves of $167.8 million and prearranged commitments of another $140 million to cover more than $7 billion in deposits. Financial statements show that Chevy Chase had $26.5 million in MSSIC reserves at year-end and Government Services had $10.9 million in the MSSIC fund. Their withdrawal would reduce the fund to $130 million, but under MSSIC rules the reserves must be withdrawn over a five-year period.