Three banks failed last month and some 90 more are on regulators' troubled list. Could you lose your deposits if your bank fails? Yes, you can even if you are covered by FDIC insurance. The reason, depositors don't realize that they have to obey all the FDIC's rules.
In general, you'll be O.K. if you have less than $100,000 in any one bank and up to $200,000 in joint accounts. Some retirement accounts may be covered up to $250,000 as long as they are not brokerage accounts. But just to be sure, go to the FDIC's web site shown below and plug in your account information into its calculator, the electronic deposit insurance estimator. If that exercise informs you that some of your money lacks insurance, the first step is to try changing your accounts' ownership status. For example, by titling one account in your name, one in your spouse's name and one jointly, you can insure as much as $400,000 in deposits at that one bank.
Or you can spread your money among banks and insure an unlimited total amount, as long as you keep under the limits discussed above for each institution.
If you have so much in the bank that this seems like a lot of trouble, check out the certificate of deposit account registry service, known by its acronym CDARS. It lets you keep up to $50 million in CDs with one home bank. That bank then parcels out your holdings among other banks, so that you stay fully insured. Interest rates will be lower than you could get on your own, but then again you won't lose your money if your financial institution fails. Check out the website for more information on CDARS.