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Industry Answers Call To Action

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Insurance companies, distribution firms and industry groups have responded in force and in a number of ways to the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina. Here is what they report they are doing.

==Aetna Inc., Hartford, is matching employee contributions to relief organizations dollar for dollar and offering use of its helicopters for relief efforts.

The company also is easing some medical and pharmacy policy requirements, such as in-network care provisions, through at least Sept. 30 for members affected by Hurricane Katrina.

The telephone number for affected plan members is (800) 443-2386.

Aetna says it will continue coverage for affected employers and individuals even if they are unable to make premium payments.

==Allstate Corp., Northbrook, Ill., will give $1 million to relief efforts and is matching contributions from employees, agents and agency staff dollar for dollar.

Allstate also deferred payment periods for up to 90 days for customers of its life insurance and benefits units and other units in counties and parishes affected by Katrina.

Customers who want to make payments but cannot mail the payments can use credit cards or debit cards to make the payments by calling (800) 255-7828. Customers also can use that telephone number to make check payments, Allstate says.

==Assurant Inc., New York, is giving $250,000 to the United Way’s Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. The company’s Milwaukee-based Assurant Health unit is donating $15,000 to Red Cross relief efforts and matching donations to the Red Cross by independent Assurant Health agents up to a maximum of $50,000.

==The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Chicago, expects to join with its member plans to donate at least $1 million to relief efforts.

==Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, Baton Rouge, La., is donating $500,000 to American Red Cross relief efforts.

Louisiana Blue also is helping customers by allowing early prescription refills, and the company is eliminating preauthorization requirements and extending the premium payment grace period for individuals and small groups in the parishes hit by Katrina.

==Brooke Corp., Overland Park, Kan., a financial services distribution firm, has canceled its 2005 annual franchise convention, which was supposed to start in New Orleans Oct. 16. “However, to demonstrate our confidence that the great city of New Orleans will soon rebuild, we are planning to hold the 2006 annual franchise convention in New Orleans,” the company says.

==CIGNA Corp., Philadelphia, is donating $500,000 to the American Red Cross and will pay $2 for every $1 that employees contribute, up to a total of $500,000.

CIGNA also is opening its 24-hour, toll-free behavioral health telephone support line, at (888) 622-6470, to all residents of the Gulf Coast communities hit by Katrina. Trained counselors can talk to callers about grief, stress and other issues.

CIGNA will let health members in affected areas refill prescriptions early, and it is easing many claims requirements for members in affected areas.

==Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, Columbia, S.C., a unit of UnumProvident Corp., Chattanooga, Tenn., has set up special telephone lines and e-mail boxes to make it easier for customers who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina to get support from the company.

The telephone number for policyholders affected by Katrina is (800) 325-4368, and the number for plan administrators affected by Katrina is (800) 256-7004.

Customers in affected areas will receive a 120-day grace period for premium payment, Colonial Life says.

Colonial Life operates as Colonial Supplemental Insurance.

==Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford, says it will continue to insure homeowners, automobile and commercial insurance customers hit by Hurricane Katrina if they are temporarily unable to make their insurance payments. The announcement affects customers in Louisiana and Mississippi and in the some counties in Alabama and Florida.

==Humana Inc., Louisville, Ky., says it will be contributing $1 million, with half of the money going to the American Red Cross and half going to local relief efforts.

Humana will let members in affected areas refill prescriptions early.

==The Atlanta-based U.S. operations of ING Groep N.V., Amsterdam, will be contributing $1 million to the American Red Cross Katrina relief efforts, and it will be contributing 50 cents for every $1 that employees contribute to the Katrina relief effort.

==Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Springfield, Mass., will be contributing $250,000 to the relief effort and contributing $2 for each $1 that its employees and sales representatives contribute over the next 60 days.

MassMutual also is extending premium payment grace periods by 62 days for policy owners in areas affected by Katrina. The extension affects holders of MassMutual life insurance, long term care insurance and disability policies as well as holders of certain annuity contracts.

==MetLife Inc., New York, is donating $1 million to relief efforts.

The company has moved its Metairie, La., sales office to Lafayette, La., and it is asking associates to check in by calling (337) 232-2531.

For customers in the disaster areas in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, MetLife will keep all life, health and other coverage in force at least until Dec. 1, even if the customers fail to pay their premiums.

==The Million Dollar Round Table, Park Ridge, Ill., has set up a Katrina relief fund, announced plans to match up to $50,000 in member contributions, and set up a Katrina forum at Members can use the forum to seek and offer help. One member in Baton Rouge, La., notes that the influx of storm survivors has emptied grocery stores in his area and has asked for donations of emergency supplies for the survivors in his church.

==New York Life Insurance Company, New York, said it will contribute $1 million to the American Red Cross, Washington, and match contributions from employees, agents and retirees dollar for dollar.

The company has pledged to pay all claims swiftly.

The company also is offering emergency loans against the cash value of current policies to help in recovery and rebuilding. New York Life is asking policyholders to call (800) 695-4331 for help with extensions on payments or help with replacing policies that have been lost or destroyed.

New York Life will be paying a $200-per-day stipend as well as offering salary continuation for employees displaced by Katrina.

==Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, is giving $1 million to the American Red Cross, and it has temporarily suspended automatic policy lapses and insurance account terminations for policyholders in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Northwestern Mutual also is expediting payments of policy loans, and it will be waiving all FedEx and bank wire fees for loan and benefit payments in the areas affected by Katrina.

==Pan-American Life Insurance Company, New Orleans, is moving to temporary offices in Baton Rouge. The company’s telephone number is (877) 939-4550.

==Petersen International Underwriters, Valencia, Calif., a company that helps clients buy specialized life, health and disability policies, says it will be offering an extra 30-day grace period for insureds in affected regions with payments due between Aug. 29 and Sept. 30. The firm also is granting an automatic, 14-day extension for any international major medical coverage set to expire between Aug. 29 and Sept. 30 for insureds located within the affected region.

==Principal Financial Group Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, is giving $75,000 to the American Red Cross. It also will match contributions to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund by employees, retirees and career agents dollar for dollar. The donations must be received by Sept. 16.

==Prudential Financial Inc., Newark, N.J., has set up a relief fund and will be matching contributions from employees, retirees, sales professionals and real estate affiliates until Oct. 12.

The company also is asking employees and other associates to check in, and it is offering employees expedited Prudential employer savings plan loans.

The company is offering interest-free loans of up to $5,000 for Prudential insurance sales professionals and home office employees facing personal hardships due to the hurricane. The telephone number for that program is (337) 232-1737.

==The Regence Group, Portland, Ore., a group of Northwestern Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, says it will contribute $100,000 to relief efforts.

==Standard Insurance Company, a unit of StanCorp Financial Group Inc., Portland, Ore., has agreed to help Portland cover the cost of sending 20 firefighters to the Southeast to help with relief efforts.

The company also has agreed to pay for the United Way to assign specially trained charitable assistance coordinators to the New Orleans 2-1-1 call center.

In addition, Standard will allow group benefit plan members who volunteer for the relief effort to keep their Standard coverage for up to 60 days while they are on approved leave.

The telephone number for group or individual customers affected by Katrina is (800) 521-9540.

==The Wellesley Hills, Mass.-based U.S. arm of Sun Life Financial Inc., Toronto, is donating $100,000 to the Red Cross. The company also will contribute $2 for every $1 that employees donate, up to a maximum of $50,000.

The U.S. arm has set up a special toll-free telephone number for policyholders affected by Katrina at (800) 253-9574. The direct number is (781) 446-6744.

==Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Minneapolis, has given $1 million to relief efforts, and it says it expects its policyholder members to raise another $2 million.

The fraternal insurer also has announced a 4-year, $105 million agreement with Habitat for Humanity International, Americus, Ga., a group that builds homes for people with low incomes.

The agreement will form the Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity home construction alliance.

Although $100 million in cash, volunteer labor and other resources will go to general housing construction program efforts, $5 million has been earmarked specifically for reconstruction of homes in the Gulf Coast region, Thrivent says.

Thrivent will donate 50 cents to Habitat for Humanity for each dollar that members give to the charity, up to a maximum of $300 per member per year.

- WellPoint Inc., Indianapolis, has announced an immediate contribution of $500,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, and it will be matching 50% of employee contributions to the American Red Cross, Washington.