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Industry's good works outnumber bad ones


When I wrote in my Jan. 22 column about the unheralded heroics and contributions made by the insurance industry following loss, I invited readers to send me stories about the good works the industry does.

To the many who shared a tale or two, thank you. Below are a few examples of how the industry helps communities, apart from its daily business of providing advice and resolving claims.

  • A remarkable example of going above and beyond the call of duty is Irma Duckworth of Aon Risk Services in New Orleans. During Hurricane Katrina, Ms. Duckworth lost her home and most of her possessions. Yet she quickly relocated to an Aon office in Houston so that she could continue helping clients with their claims. Months after the storm, she went back to New Orleans to live out of a trailer parked next to her devastated home.

  • One reader wrote that Houston's CPCU Society chapter supports the arts at a local elementary school. Responding to the removal of such programs from many schools' curriculums, the chapter provides musical instruments and other material to help kids learn music.

  • Also in Houston, the local Risk & Insurance Management Society chapter sponsors a holiday party for battered women and children. All the kids get gifts, and in one case, a child was confused because she had never received a Christmas gift before. The reader wrote that such acts are "done by people in the insurance industry, many times with their own funds, to help others and are done with no expectation of reward."

  • Another reader cited an organization called Kids Chance of Pennsylvania, which raises money to give college scholarships to students with financial hardship resulting from a fatal or serious workplace injury to their parent or guardian. Most of this group's leaders work in the insurance and workers compensation industry. The reader said similar groups are in at least 26 other states.

  • Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. sponsors a program that has donated more than $10 million in equipment and training for fire departments.

  • To honor their 20th anniversaries, both ACE Ltd. and XL Capital Ltd. held global days of service for all their employees to work on projects supporting the needy and communities.

  • Even small entities can make a difference. Insight Insurance Services Inc. in Geneva, Ill., is supporting Nothing But Nets, a global program that raises fund to provide bedding nets to protect against mosquitoes carrying malaria. The disease kills more than 1 million a year. Insight, a program administrator, is donating $10 for each policy order it receives from agents.

  • The Foundation for Agency Management Excellence, created by the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers in 1994, funds programs promoting agency leadership, training and research of issues critical to the insurance industry, including how to insure catastrophic events. Last year, it created a scholarship program for needy students who major in risk management and insurance, a FAME leader wrote. In September 2005, following Katrina, FAME announced that all proceeds from its annual major fund-raiser during the Insurance Leadership Forum at the Greenbrier would be donated to help victims of the disaster. FAME collected more than $125,000 for that effort, most of that coming from individuals in the insurance industry.

  • Collectively, the industry responds generously to disasters. For example, hundreds of millions of dollars were donated through company foundations, employee matching funds and other programs to aid victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, not to mention similar amounts for Katrina.

From disaster relief to disease research to supporting individuals with disabilities, there are far too many examples of foundations, scholarships, grants and the personal generosity of industry employees to list here, but I hope you see my point: The insurance industry does many good things to enrich and even save lives, and not just for paying customers.