Life and health insurers are stepping up efforts to help the victims of the recent earthquakes and tsunamis in South Asia and East Africa.[@@]
Individual carriers already have raised millions of dollars for victims of the disaster, which was triggered by a strong earthquake that hit Dec. 26, 2004.
Many carriers and industry groups have now decided to channel Web donations through the Million Dollar Round Table Foundation, Park Ridge, Ill.
The MDRT Foundation will use the donations to support charities that will provide medical care, food, clothing, shelter and other relief for the victims.
Individuals and organizations that want to contribute through the Web can start by clicking on the disaster relief link at http://www.mdrtfoundation.org
The American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, says its foundation will be collecting funds for relief efforts designed to help children affected by the tsunamis. “Life insurers are focusing on children as part of their historical commitment to families,” says ACLI President Frank Keating. “We hope that our contributions can help restore some of the dreams that were lost.”
Individuals and organizations can mail their contributions to the ACLI International Foundation, at 101 Constitution Ave. N.W., Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20004-2133.
Organizations that have agreed to contribute through the MDRT Foundation include the American College, the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting, the Association of Health Insurance Advisors, GAMA International, the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education, LIMRA International, the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies and the Society of Financial Services Professionals.
United Nations disaster officials estimate the recent earthquakes and tsunamis have killed at least 150,000 in the affected countries, or about 1 in 10,000 residents, and left millions of residents of those countries homeless.
The disaster also may have killed many tourists from the United States and Europe. Swedish officials, for example, have confirmed only 52 tsunami-related deaths, but about 1,900 Swedish residents are missing. The totals mean that more than 1 of every 5,000 residents of Sweden seems to be dead or missing as a result of the tsunamis.
In the United States, the biggest disaster of the decade, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, killed about 1 in 100,000 residents.
Here is a sampling of individual life and health carriers’ efforts to help the victims of the recent earthquakes and tsunamis:
- Manulife Financial Corp., Toronto, which continues to search for half of the 120 employees who worked in its office in Banda Aceh before the office was destroyed, has started by donating the equivalent of about $80,000 in U.S. currency to the Red Cross and about $80,000 to local disaster relief efforts in Banda Aceh.
Manulife also has established an Action Aceh relief fund in Indonesia and promised to match any contributions to the fund.
- New York Life Insurance Company, New York, is donating $500,000 to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and it is earmarking $500,000 for matching contributions for donations by its employees and agents to the Red Cross, the MDRT Foundation relief fund and local Thai and Indian relief programs.
Many New York Life employees and agents in India and Thailand are personally traveling to affected areas to distribute food and medical supplies, New York Life says.
- Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Minneapolis, is donating $1 million and has announced a $2 million matching grant to Lutheran World Relief’s “Wave of Giving” disaster relief campaign.
Thrivent is offering its matching grant program to all 2.8 million Thrivent Financial members across the United States. Thrivent will match member donations to Lutheran World Relief $1 for $1 through April 15, up to a maximum of $2 million. Thrivent is hoping the campaign will raise a total of $5 million for tsunami victims.
Thrivent executives says the cash will be used to provide disaster victims with long-term counseling and help with rebuilding homes and businesses as well as to supply victims with essentials such as clean water, food and shelter.
- Citigroup Inc., New York, is donating $3 million, with $1 million going to the Red Cross, $1 million going to local aid organizations and $1 million going to long-term reconstruction efforts. The Citigroup Foundation will be matching employee contributions to relief efforts, and employees in affected areas have been busy organizing immediate relief efforts.
- American International Group Inc., New York, says its Starr Foundation affiliate will match employees contributions through the AIG Disaster Relief Fund $1 for $1. The foundation also has announced a $2.5 million contribution to relief efforts.
- Hewitt Associats Inc., Lincolnshire, Ill, let Chicago-area broadcasters use its offices to put on a telethon that raised about $1.7 million in relief contributions.