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TheStreet Open House

CIT Group Failure Highlights Insurance

Stocks in this article: CITWFC

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- With the bankruptcy of lender CIT Group (CIT), which counted a million small and medium-sized businesses as customers, and the unrelated failure of nine banks this week, companies and consumers need to adapt to protect themselves.

CIT filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this week to restructure its debt. Two days earlier, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. ordered another round of bank closings, bringing the total number of failed U.S. banks to 115 this year.

CIT, a bank holding company with more than $60 billion in assets, has been a lifeline for smaller businesses. Fortunately for traditional consumers, none of CIT's subsidiaries, including CIT Bank in Utah, will be included in bankruptcy filings.

The troubles faced by CIT will undoubtedly be a boon to competitors, such as Wells Fargo (WFC). Community banks should also benefit if they can shape product lines to meet the needs of small-business clients.

Given the near-record number of failed banks this year, and the trend for even smaller banks to expand in financial services, consumers will need to know which assets are protected from disaster. The California Society of CPAs (CSC) is among organizations that advise the public on how to handle what will inevitably be more bank failures this year and next.

According to the CSC, placing funds with an FDIC-insured bank no longer means all assets are covered. As banks have increasingly added financial services to increase profits, not all new products fall under federal protection guidelines.

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