American International Group’s most photographed building in New York has lost its AIG sign.
The furor over the AIG bonuses has caused such an uproar that AIG prefers a more anonymous presence.
In a story yesterday in The New York Times it was commented that all of the unwanted publicity is making it harder for the AIG insurance companies, which are healthy and strong, to capture new business and renewals. The adverse publicity is causing insureds to have second thoughts about AIG insurance. Also, competitors, like buzzards, are flying over AIG trying to pick-up some of its business. Some insureds are concerned about staying with an insurance company which has been called a financial basket case. AIG insurance companies are going to market themselves under an older name of the company, American International Underwriters. In sum, the crisis has tarnished the AIG brand which was one of the best in the insurance industry.
Although competition is good and can grow from the ashes of a competitor’s adversity, the publicity and fears about AIG are unfounded. AIG insurance companies are healthy. For example, two weeks ago we settled a substantial claim of $100,000, and the check was sent to us in a day. The culprit in the AIG mess is the AIG Financial Services company which engaged in the financial guarantees at the center of the AIG bailout.
As I commented in a prior post, if the AIG insurance companies get pulled down, then it is bye, bye AIG. There will be nothing worth saving.
Mark E. Seitelman, 3/24/09, www.seitelman.com.