What Is the NCUA?

Most U.S. credit union members probably know the National Credit Union Administration as the independent federal agency that insures their deposits. Beyond that, the NCUA — established by Congress in 1970 — charters, supervises and regulates federal credit unions. When a credit union is liquidated, or shut down, the NCUA manages the process.

There were more than 4,600 federally insured credit unions in the U.S. as of September 2023, with insured shares and deposits totaling $1.72 trillion.

The NCUA says it is “primarily focused on ensuring the safety and soundness of the credit union system.” Two U.S. credit unions failed in 2023, down from four the previous year, according to Weiss Ratings. Learn more about how NCUA insurance works, and what types of credit union accounts are protected.

[See: Best Credit Unions]

Who Runs the NCUA?

The NCUA is run by a three-member board of directors. This board oversees the agency’s operations, sets policies, approves budgets and adopts rules and regulations. The agency’s 2024 budget is $385.7 million.

Each board member, appointed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, serves a six-year term. The president also names the chairman of the NCUA board. All three board members can’t be from the same political party.

An executive director hired by the board leads the NCUA’s day-to-day operations. The agency employs about 1,200 people at 16 offices around the country.

What Is NCUA Insurance?

The federally backed National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, managed by the NCUA, protects deposits at all federal credit unions and most state-chartered credit unions in the event that the institution fails.

As of September 2023, the NCUA’s insurance-run fund contained nearly $21 billion in assets.

The standard NCUA insurance covers up to $250,000 per account holder and per insured credit union for each account ownership category. Called “share insurance,” this benefit automatically takes effect after joining a federally insured credit union.

In some cases, when legally permitted, this coverage can also apply to deposits held by non-members.

The NCUA says you might qualify for more than $250,000 in coverage at one credit union if you have accounts in different ownership categories. Ownership category refers to the type of account, such as a single account (held by one person) or joint account (held by two or more people).

Here’s a scenario where a single account at a federally insured credit union would be fully covered:

— $200,000 in a share certificate (similar to a certificate of deposit)

— $25,000 in share drafts (similar to a checking account)

— $20,000 in a money market account

— $5,000 in regular shares (similar to a savings account)

Add those up, and you have $250,000. Therefore, all of those funds would be fully covered by NCUA insurance.

For a joint account, the equation is different.

In this scenario, let’s say you and your spouse jointly own $200,000 in share drafts and $300,000 in a share certificate at the same credit union. This gives you a total of $500,000, all of which would be insured since there is $250,000 of coverage for each spouse — as long you don’t own any other joint accounts at the credit union.

For a single account or joint account (or any other account), amounts above the coverage limits might not be insured. If you’re unclear whether your money at a credit union is insured, contact the credit union for clarification.

[Read: Best Savings Accounts.]

What Does the NCUA Cover?

Accounts covered by NCUA insurance include:

— Regular shares (similar to savings accounts)

— Share drafts (similar to checking accounts)

— Money market accounts

— Share certificates (like certificates of deposit, or CDs, at banks)

— Traditional and Roth IRAs

— KEOGH retirement accounts

— Revocable trust accounts

— Irrevocable trust accounts

What the NCUA Doesn’t Insure

Items not insured by the NCUA include:

— Mutual fund investments

— Stocks

— Bonds

— Life insurance policies

— Annuities

Even if these investment or insurance products were sold by a federally insured credit union, NCUA insurance doesn’t apply.

[Read: Best Checking Accounts.]


The NCUA and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. are independent federal agencies that protect Americans’ deposits in the event that a financial institution fails.

An NCUA-operated fund, the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, insures deposits at all federally insured credit unions and most state-chartered credit unions. The FDIC insures deposits at federally insured banks and savings associations.

NCUA and FDIC deposits are insured up to $250,000 per depositor and per financial institution in each ownership category.

Unlike for-profit banks, credit unions operate as nonprofits that accept deposits, make loans and offer a variety of other financial products and services. Members, or customers, own their credit unions, and a volunteer board of directors elected by the members manages each credit union.

How to Confirm Your Credit Union’s NCUA Status

Credit unions backed by NCUA insurance must indicate so in advertisements and display the official NCUSIF insurance sign in their offices and branches. NCUA insurance status also must appear on the website of a federally insured credit union. You can research a federally insured credit union by visiting mapping.ncua.gov.

Keep in mind that some state-chartered credit unions take out private deposit insurance that’s not backed by the federal government.

How to File a Claim With the NCUA

If a credit union placed into liquidation owes you money for a product or service, you might need to file a claim. However, credit union members don’t need to file a claim to get share insurance.

To file a claim:

— Confirm you’re within the claim period. Search for the credit union on the NCUA’s conservatorships and liquidations page and select the credit union name to view the creditor notice. The creditor notice shows the claim-filing deadline.

— Complete a proof of claim form.

— Attach documents that support the amount you’re claiming. These include agreements, contracts, invoices, work orders and statements.

— Submit the proof of claim form.

— Send the form and attachments by email to amacmail@ncua.gov or by regular mail to Liquidating Agent, 4807 Spicewood Springs Road, Suite 5100, Austin, TX 78759.

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What Is the NCUA? originally appeared on usnews.com

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