In a situation where large deposits can't be divided into different ownership classes, protecting assets fully requires dividing them among separate institutions.

Brokerage accounts have a level of protection that falls outside the FDIC. The Securities Investor Protection Corp., a nonprofit funded by its participating firms, can insure accounts up to $500,000. Protection applies only if a brokerage faces bankruptcy or insolvency.

Market fluctuations and bad investments, as expected, receive no protection.

-- Reported by Joe Mont in Boston.

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