Here is a partial description of life and health insurance community responses to Katrina.[@@]
The Million Dollar Round Table, Park Ridge, Ill., has been active in efforts to help producers seek and offer Katrina-related assistance.
In addition to starting a relief fund and offering to match the first $50,000 in contributions, the MDRT Foundation has set up a Katrina message board at http://mdrtmember.blogspot.com
- 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.
- 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.
NEW: 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.
- NEW: Prudential Financial Inc., Newark, N.J., is giving $3 million to the relief effort, and it expects to raise $2 million from employees and other associates.
Prudential’s foundation has waived its annual $5,000-per-employee limit on matching gifts for Katrina relief contributions.
Prudential also is asking employees and other associates to check in, and it is offering employees expedited Prudential employer savings plan loans.
Prudential 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.
- NEW: The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Chicago, originally said it and its member plans would give $1 million, but now it says it expects the total to exceed $3 million.
- NEW: MetLife Inc., New York, is giving $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 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 $1 that employees contribute to the Katrina relief effort.
- 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 has deferred payment periods of up to 90 days for customers in counties and parishes affected by Katrina.
“Deferred payment means that customers who are unable to make their premium payments will not be penalized with a loss of coverage during the deferment period,” Allstate says. “If a customer continues to make payments, even if it’s not the minimum amount due, their payments will be credited toward the outstanding premium amount. If a customer has a renewal policy offer pending during this timeframe, but is unable to make a payment, their policy will continue to be in effect. Additionally, installment fees will be waived during this timeframe.”
The deferred payments announcement affects Allstate life insurance and worksite benefits customers as well as the company’s property-casualty insurance customers, Allstate says.
Customers who do 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.
- New York Life Insurance Company, New York, has agreed to 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
NEW: WellPoint also is eliminating many restrictions on access to coverage for residents of areas affected by Katrina who have health coverage through its UniCare unit and its Blue Cross and Blue Shield units at least until Sept. 30. The move also affects other residents of the region who have pharmacy benefits through its Anthem and WellPoint prescription management programs.
For eligible health plan members, WellPoint will treat all health care providers as in-network providers and exempt the members from any prior-authorization, pre-certification or referral requirements.
WellPoint also will be waiving co-payments for prescriptions and suspending utilization management review of in-hospital cases.