Here is a partial description of life and health insurance community responses to Katrina.[@@]
- America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, has stepped up to the plate by setting up a toll-free hotline for Katrina survivors that will be staffed by live human beings 24 hours a day.
The hotline, at (800) 644-1818, will help connect survivors with their health insurance plans, even if they have lost their health plan cards and no longer remember the names of their carriers.
The live human beings at the hotline call center will locate the caller’s insurer and stay on the line with the caller until a customer service specialist at the caller’s health insurance plan is reached, AHIP says.
Other call center counselors will try to help callers who no longer remember the names of their health plans identify their plans, AHIP says.
AHIP is promoting the new hotline with full-page ads in national and regional newspapers.
- The Texas Association of Health Underwriters, Duncanville, Texas, has announced a major fundraising campaign to help the 75 New Orleans members of the National Association of Health Underwriters who are now at least temporarily homeless as a result of Katrina.
The Texas chapter of NAHU is asking association members to send checks made out to the TAHU Honorees Corp. to P.O. Box 381506 Duncanville, TX 75138-1506.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Western & Southern Financial Group, Cincinnati, notes that it had 3 offices directly hit by Katrina in Baton Rouge, La.; Lafayette, La.; and Thibodaux, La.[@@]
The offices are now open for business, Western & Southern says.
The company is giving $1 million to the relief effort.
The telephone number for customers with questions is (800) 926-1993.
- Aflac Inc., Columbus, Ga., will be giving a total of $1 million to the relief effort, with $800,000 going to the American Red Cross and $200,000 going to support Katrina evacuees who are now in and around Columbus.
The company also is organizing blood drives in its Omaha, Neb., and Albany, N.Y., offices as well as in Columbus.
The company has established a 90-day premium payment grace period for customers in the affected areas.
The company has established a special hotline for customers with questions about Katrina at (800) 849-2943.
- 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 be matching employee contributions to Katrina relief efforts through Nov. 1.
For patients from the affected areas, Humana is eliminating pre-certification, referral and medical necessity review requirements, and it will be treating out-of-network claims as in-network claims.
Humana also will be providing 1-month premium payment grace period for individual and group customers. Humana has set the beginning of the grace period for Aug. 28.
The customer service for customers and others with questions about Katrina is (866) 427-7478.
- 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.