The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the catastrophic 2004 earthquakes and tsunamis in South Asia have helped raise the profile of travel insurance programs and work-life benefits programs.[@@]
Now the devastation that Hurricane Katrina has wrought along the Gulf Coast has brought the programs back into the spotlight.
At Bensinger DuPont & Associates, Chicago, an employee assistance program and work-life benefits firm, “we’re getting a lot of calls,” says spokesman Gus Stieber.
“No one is actually calling from New Orleans,” Stieber says.
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But many workers who have evacuated from New Orleans and employees who live in hard-hit but somewhat less isolated communities, such as Biloxi, Miss., are calling to ask about ways to get cash through advances on paychecks or other means, Stieber says.
“Some of their houses have been destroyed,” Stieber reports.
Today, employers are filling Web message boards with heartrending pleas for information about missing employees who might be alive and well or might be dead.
Bensinger DuPont recommends that employers prepare for the possibility of disastrous events by creating “phone trees” that give employees the telephone numbers of other employees to call in case of emergencies.
Stieber says health insurers may be able to play a role in helping employers find missing employees.