WASHINGTON (6/15/11)--Federal credit unions may purchase or invest in an insurance agency as a credit union service organization (CUSO) provided the insurance agency primarily serves credit unions, their members, or the membership of credit unions that are under contract with the agency. The insurance agency also could engage only in activities “related to the routine daily operations of credit unions.” These comments were made in a National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) legal opinion letter by NCUA Associate General Counsel Hattie Ulan. Ulan in the letter responded to a question from Sharon Henderson of McGuire Woods LLP, Jacksonville, Fla. Insurance sales, vehicle warranty services, group purchasing programs, and real estate settlement services are among the list of permissible activities, according to the NCUA. The NCUA added that credit unions must assess the number of credit union affiliated members that the insurance agency serves and the amount of revenues that the agency derives from credit union members. The number of insurance policies that have been sold to members, and the general accessibility of services for credit union members must also be determined before a credit union can invest, according to the NCUA. Credit unions “must vigilantly reassess” these customer base requirements “on a constant basis,” the NCUA added. The agency said that failure to adhere to these standards “could easily lead to safety and soundness problems” for credit unions, and could potentially threaten the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. The NCUA said that credit unions “have the authority to invest up to 1% of their paid-in and unimpaired capital and surplus in CUSOs structured as a corporation, limited liability company, or limited partnership.” For the full letter, use the resource link.