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Insurers Step Up To Help China

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North American insurers are starting to announce efforts to respond to the recent earthquake in China’s Sichuan Province.

A 7.9-magnitude struck the province Monday, and Chinese officials have estimated it may have killed as many 50,000 people.

American International Group Inc., New York, says it will match 100% of all employee contributions to China earthquake relief and reconstruction efforts and also make an outright donation of $1 million to the relief efforts.

AIG was founded in Shanghai in 1919 and returned to China in 1992. It has a wholly owned subsidiary in China, American International Assurance, Hong Kong, and also owns a 9.9% stake in People’s Insurance Company of China, Beijing.

“AIG is deeply committed to providing financial assistance to our friends in China who have been greatly affected by this devastating natural catastrophe,” AIG President Martin Sullivan says in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Chinese people during this extremely difficult time.”

AIG is ready to use its experience and partnerships in the region to help the residents of Sichuan Province rebuild, Sullivan says.

- Manulife Financial Corp., Toronto, says it will be contributing the equivalent of about $286,000 to the relief efforts.

Some of the donation will go to the general Red Cross Earthquake Appeal fund, and some will go to help schoolchildren and teachers at schools destroyed by the earthquake, Manulife says.

Manulife joint venture, Manulife-Sinochem, has 766 staffers and agents and 5 sales offices in Sichuan Province, in the cities of Chengdu, Deyang, Mianyang, Nangchong and Zigong.

“All staff and agents are accounted for, and 3 of the sales offices — in Nangchong, Zigong and Deyang — are operational,” Manulife says.

The Chengdu and Mianyang offices should reopen in a few days, the company says.

“We were all shocked and saddened by Monday’s terrible events, and we would like to express our sympathy to the victims and their families,” Robert Cook, the general manager for Manulife’s Asia operations, says in a statement. “Our immediate priority was to ensure the safety of all our staff and agents in China. Now that we have done so, our focus turns to ensuring we do what we can to support the relief effort and to help local people to start to rebuild their lives.”

- Sun Life Financial Inc., Toronto, says it will contribute $150,000 to China relief efforts and establish a matching program for employees’ personal donations to relief efforts.

Sun Life been operating in China through a joint venture, Sun Life Everbright Life Insurance Company Ltd., Tianjin, China, since 2002.

“Sun Life Financial has strong ties to China, and we are greatly concerned for people in affected areas,” Sun Life Chief Executive Donald Stewart says. “It’s vital that we assist in relief and recovery efforts during this critical time.”


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