B-to-b insurance giants The St. Paul Cos. and The Hartford Insurance Cos. said they are expecting heavy losses resulting from the World Trade Center disaster.St. Paul Cos. estimates losses of about $700 million for the company's U.S. primary insurance, reinsurance and Lloyd's of London operations. Hartford Insurance announced expected losses could approach $450 million.Both companies said they would meet all of their financial obligations, and not invoke the war exclusion stipulation, which theoretically could shield them from paying out."We are not going to hide behind the war exclusion for these acts of terrorism," said Douglas W. Leatherdale, St. Paul Cos.' chairman. Both St. Paul Cos. and Hartford Insurance, known among insurance industry watchers for their strong balance sheets, have been actively issuing public relations statements regarding their ability to meet their World Trade Center financial obligations.Other major b-to-b insurers, including MetLife Inc., have also incurred much financial responsibility for the damage caused by the attacks, and also said they will not invoke the war exclusion stipulation. MetLife, the No. 2 insurer in terms of assets, said it expected between $250 million and $350 million in claims. The No. 1 insurer by assets, Prudential Financial, did not return calls by press time, but its losses are expected to be heavy.Insurers have been generous in their donations to the relief effort despite their massive financial obligations. New York-based MetLife donated $1 million to the families of fallen police, firefighters, emergency medical services workers and other rescue workers. MetLife has also made a $100,000 contribution to the American Red Cross, and will match employee contributions to the organization. State Farm Insurance Cos., which also has financial obligations stemming from the disaster (it has not released an estimate), has donated $1 million to the American Red Cross as well as radio ad time.The World Trade Center disaster will probably wind up being the largest disaster in insurance history. No reliable financial number, in terms of total losses to be incurred by insurers, has yet been established.
In other news related to the aftermath of the terrorist attacks:
**Viacom Inc. said its earnings for the year would be lower than expected as a result of last week's terrorist attacks. Viacom, which owns CBS, said its non-stop news coverage of the disaster resulted in a significant loss of advertising revenue and increased costs, although it did not disclose figures. Viacom, which generates about half of its revenue from advertising, also reported lost revenues from the cancellation of the Latin Grammy awards and the National Football League games. http://www.viacom.com
**The Direct Marketing Association late Tuesday urged non-profit organizations to stop prospecting via outbound fundraising calls until the end of the month. H. Robert Wientzen, DMA president-CEO, said in a statement, "In this time of national tragedy, this is simply the right thing to do." http://www.the-dma.org
**E-business and marketing consultancy Agency.com Ltd., based just south of the site of the World Trade Center, announced plans to reduce its companywide work force by 19%, or 200 employees. Seventy percent of the layoffs will come from the company's consulting staff. None of the firm's New York-based employees will be laid off in the restructuring. Agency.com is in the process of reopening its world headquarters, located at 20 Exchange Place. All of the company's 300 New York-based employees are alive and accounted for. http://www.agency.com