The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has canceled its fall quarterly meeting due to the devastating flooding that hit New Orleans.[@@]

The fall meeting had been set to start Sept. 10.

“The first priority for all insurance commissioners is responding to disasters,” says NAIC President Diane Koken. “Our hearts go out to our colleagues who are trying to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.”

Catherine Weatherford, executive vice president of the NAIC, Kansas City, Mo., says that after surveying members, the organization has agreed to cancel the meeting and work through executive conference calls in the coming weeks.

She says the possibility of holding a smaller meeting in October is under consideration.

Earlier in the week, commissioners looked into the possibility of switching cities, because the NAIC meetings department has well-established relationships with site providers. But the logistics of providing accommodations for 1,500 regulators and industry participants in a period of less than 2 weeks proved to be too daunting.

“Because regulators are used to conducting telephone conference calls, we do not expect any interruption of NAIC business,” she says.

Weatherford adds that insurance regulators are experts at emergency response and “our officers and key committee chairs are continuing to collaborate on key initiatives.”

The last time an NAIC meeting was canceled was in September 2001, when an NAIC meeting was scheduled to take in place in Boston shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

A special meeting was set in October 2001. The main topic at the October 2001 meeting was the need to develop a mechanism for the insurance industry to respond to future attacks. The discussions helped inspire the bill which ultimately became the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act.

The NAIC has made a pledge of $25,000 to the American Red Cross Special Hurricane Fund to assist with recovery efforts.