After the sudden fall of American International Group
We all depend on insurance, from health coverage, life insurance, protection for our house and car, to our annuity in retirement. Every facet of our lives involves insurance, and we pay a large amount to make sure we will receive help when we need it.
How can you be sure your insurer is able to meet its claims? If you live in Texas and were affected by Hurricane Ike, aside from the desperate worry over the damage to your property, the news last week about AIG will not have helped.
There are two positive things about insurers. First, they are strictly regulated to ensure companies maintain the ability to meet claims, and this regulation is overseen by state insurance commissioners. Second, in the event an insurer is unable to meet its claims, states have a guaranty arrangement where all insurers would be required to contribute funds. When there is a multi-state life and health-company failure, the National Organization of Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Associations, or NOLHGA, coordinates claims. Similar guaranty associations exist for all insurance types.So what is different about an insurance company that provides additional comfort? After all, banks are regulated by the FDIC and they fail, and AIG has failed too?
It is important to realize that AIG's insurance companies are continuing to operate as normal. The insurance companies did not fail; the problems are with the holding company. The insurance companies are considered by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, or NAIC, to have sufficient liquidity to meet all claims. In fact, the NAIC has set up a special committee of commissioners overseeing AIG to ensure normal operations. Additionally, the NAIC will oversee any sale of an insurance company.