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.
- Prudential Financial Inc., Newark, N.J., is donating $1 million to disaster relief efforts. It also has agreed to contribute $1 in matching funds for every dollar that employees contribute to its disaster relief fund. Prudential is waiving its annual matching gifts program limit of $5,000 per employee for contributions made to the disaster relief fund. The matching gifts program is open to all domestic Prudential employees and real estate brokers affiliated with Prudential Real Estate.
For the first time, Prudential also is opening its matching gifts funds to Prudential Financial employees who work outside the United States.
- American Express Company, New York, is donating $1 million to Red Cross and Red Crescent relief efforts in the affected countries. The American Express Foundation is matching employee donations for relief efforts.
- MetLife Inc., New York, is doinating $1 million to the American Red Cross’s International Response Fund.
- Sun Life Financial Inc., Toronto, is donating the equivalent of about $80,000 to the Canadian Red Cross South Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund and set aside about $400,000 to match contributions from employees and members of its Clarica affiliate’s sales force.
- UnumProvident Corp., Chattanooga, Tenn., is donating $100,000 to the American Red Cross, AmeriCares and Save the Children. The company also has agreed to contribute up to $2 in matching contributions for every dollar in employee contributions to the 3 organizations, up to a maximum of $50,000.
- Pacific Life Insurance Company, Newport Beach, Calif., is donating $1 million to the South Asia Tsunami Relief effort at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. The company also is encouraging employees to make donations of their own.
- The Allstate Corp., Northbrook, Ill., is matching employees and agency owners’ contributions to the Red Cross relief effort dollar for dollar, without imposing any upper limits on the matching grants. Red Cross has set up a special tsunami relief Web site for Allstate employees and agents.
- Principal Financial Group Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, is donating $100,000 to United Way International to provide relief, including food, water and emergency shelter, and it is asking employees to make voluntary contributions to the Red Cross International Response Fund.
- The Nationwide Foundation, an arm of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, Columbus, Ohio, is matching personal contributions of $25 or more by employees to the United Way International’s South Asia Response Fund.
- The Sons of Norway Foundation, Minneapolis, a foundation affiliated with the Sons of Norway fraternal benefit society, is gathering International Red Cross relief donations from members from around the world.
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C., is offering extra medical and travel services to BlueCard holders who were affected by the earthquakes and tsunamis. Disaster victims will 30 days of free access to an emergency message center, emergency cash transfer assistance, lost document assistance, travel assistance and increased access to emergency medical assistance.
South Carolina Blue also has agreed to contribute $2 for every dollar that its employees give to the Red Cross tsunami relief effort.
- Travel Guard International, Stevens Point, Wis., has agreed to provide free emergency travel services and medical assistance services to all survivors and families affected by the disaster.
The free Travel Guard services message relay services, help with making emergency travel arrangements and help with replacing lost documents. Family members seeking those services for relatives can call Travel Guard at (866) 644-6811 or (715) 295-1209.
The company notes that it has worked with hospitals in India, Malaysia and Thailand to evacuate customers receiving medical treatment and that at least one of its customers was rescued from the flooding in Phuket, Thailand.
- International SOS Assistance Inc., Philadelphia, has established a Northern Sumatra Relief Fund. The fund has raised more than $95,000 so far from International SOS employees and individuals as well as corporate clients, which include a number of insurance companies.
Donations will be used to buy medical equipment needed in Phuket, Banda Aceh, Medan and other hard hit areas of northern Sumatra in Indonesia.
In addition to Indonesia, SOS also has deployed operations specialists to Thailand, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. It has evacuated more than 35 victims from affected areas, most of them tourists vacationing in Thailand, and has received more than 1,000 requests for assistance from clients, the company says.
Additional information was supplied by Allison Bell and Trevor Thomas.
To get substantial contributions or other substantial relief efforts added to this list, e-mail the details to firstname.lastname@example.org.