Life insurers do not appear to be receiving significant numbers of Hurricane Katrina-related life and health claims, but some Gulf Coast carriers are still recovering from the effects of the Aug. 29 storm on their own operations.[@@]
Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company, Jackson, Miss., for example, is using a generator to supply power, and a number of insurers from outside the region have posted requests on the Web for employees in the region to call headquarters.
The storm has been especially hard on Pan-American Life Insurance Company, a company known for its spectacular headquarters on Poydras Street in New Orleans, about a mile from the Superdome.
So far, Pan-American has been able to contact only 150 of its 450 home office employees, says Tom Richert, the company’s marketing director.
The generators in Pan-American’s 28-story building went down almost immediately during the storm, and the wind blew windows out on the top floor.
The water near the Pan-Am building has been about 2 feet deep, Richert says.
Several of Pan-American’s property managers stayed in the neighboring Intercontinental Hotel until the day after the storm, but, at that point, senior management ordered the property managers to leave because “the looting was getting out of hand,” Richert says.
Pan-American is trying to arrange an effort to send in trucks to get important legal, marketing, underwriting and human resources records from its headquarters, but the company has put its recovery plan into operation, and it is up and running, Richert says.
Pan-American has leased temporary space in Baton Rouge, 70 miles west of New Orleans. The company is paying claims, writing new business, and “returning to as much normalcy as we can,” Richert says.
Pan-American already is offering a 60-day grace period on payments to the areas hit hardest by Katrina. Southern Farm Bureau probably will offer a 60-day grace period, too, says company spokeswoman Linda Showah.
The life and accident claims picture remains murky.