Maloney Statement -- Hearing on the Impact of the Terrorist Attack on the Insurance Industry
I can personally report to the Committee that, having been to ground zero in New York City several times, the amount of damage is truly staggering. The investigation, recovery of the missing and cleanup is on a massive scale.
I can also report that I have visited with numerous grieving family members who are terribly shaken. It would be too much to force these families to wait for the recovery process to be complete before going forward with the processing of their insurance claims.
You need only to walk into almost any New York City subway station or other public area and see the walls plastered with the pictures, put up by loved ones of the missing, to understand just how many families have suffered the ultimate loss.
We meet today for these relatives, and to review the response of the insurance industry during this crisis.
At a time when the entire country is watching the industry, I have been heartened, thus far, by the very positive, very fast response.
In many cases insurance companies are seeking out relatives of victims before the claimants approach the company. As has been well publicized, the industry has not been invoking "act of war" exclusions.
Today I am honored to welcome the leaders of two major insurance companies based in my district, Sy Sternberg of New York Life and Robert Benmosche of MetLife. I know they and their employees have been working incredibly hard since the attack. I also want to praise both companies for the very generous charitable donations they have made in the aftermath.
Additionally, the State Insurance Department has done an excellent job working with the industry - developing a standardized affidavit that can stand-in for a death certificate for the missing - and taking other measures to help the industry process claims as quickly as possible. Today we are jointed by state Superintendent Greg Serio.
I also want to offer effusive praise this morning for the SEC. The agency lost its largest field office at 7 World Trade Center. Under the leadership of Harvey Pitt and working with Dick Grasso at the New York Stock Exchange, Wick Simmons at NASDAQ, the ECNs and the entire investment community, the SEC provided the industry with the regulatory flexibility needed to reopen the markets as quickly as possible.
I was personally at the reopening of the New York Mercantile Exchange. I believe the efforts at the NYMEX were emblematic of the struggles experienced by all of Wall Street to reopen. At the NYMEX, the staff and senior executives worked around the clock. They overcame terrible logistical problems, interruptions in power supplies and the grieving that is natural when so many industry colleagues in the World Trade Center have perished.
I know many of my House colleagues are traveling to New York on Monday to survey the damage. I applaud all of you for acting so quickly to provide financial and emotional support to the City. I know that the outpouring of support from across the country for the victims in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania is a great source of strength for my city.
I especially want to laud the efforts of Chairman Oxley and Ranking Member LaFalce, whose numerous joint television appearances set a wonderful bipartisan tone for all those involved in reopening the financial markets and demonstrating Congressional support for the actions of the SEC and market participants.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.