Empire State insurance companies should prepare to show how they would survive if a major influenza pandemic forced many employees to stay home for weeks at a time.

Officials at the New York State Insurance Department say they expect all insurance companies in the state to participate in an exercise next month to help show how well the U.S. financial services system could handle a pandemic.

New York regulators are asking both large and small insurers to register for the pandemic simulation at Document Link

The U.S. Treasury Department and major financial services trade groups are sponsoring the 3-week, Web-based exercise, which is set to start Sept. 24.

Participants can take part at their own locations and are supposed to show how they would respond to disruptions in transportation and communications, officials say.

Companies can use the exercise to determine how prepared they would be to cope with scenarios that could cause massive absenteeism, says Louis Pietroluongo, deputy superintendent of the New York department.

“Continuity plans typically focus on disruptions, like earthquakes, that are limited in time and place, but a flu pandemic could hit in waves over a protracted period of weeks or months,” Pietroluongo says.