BIG “I” KATRINA RELIEF FUND TOPS $400K
Helps Gulf Coast insurance community take steps toward recovery
ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 09, 2006—The Big “I” Katrina Relief Fund has awarded grants to more than 70 applicants from the Gulf Coast insurance community.
With more than $400,000 in the fund from more than 470 contributors, the Big “I” Katrina Relief Fund grants have helped many individuals and businesses devastated by Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, and there are plans to award more grants to those in need. The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) donated $100,000 to the relief fund, and coupled with the generous contributions of insurance carriers (Safeco Insurance, Zurich Insurance, OneBeacon Insurance, Allstate Insurance and Encompass Insurance), agents, brokers, Big “I” staff and state associations, the Big “I” Katrina Relief Fund is making a meaningful difference in the lives of many in the insurance community.
“We’re so pleased to be able to help so many people in their time of great need,” says Big “I” CEO Robert A. Rusbuldt. “The amount of support the fund has received is overwhelming, and it keeps coming in. Everyone in the insurance industry is doing what they can to help residents of the Gulf Coast put their lives back together.”
Sharon Kuntzman works at Hancock Insurance in Waveland, Miss. and received a grant to help rebuild her home.
“My hopes and dreams are to rebuild and refurnish my home,” says Kuntzman. “We have totally lost everything. A house is replaceable, but my agency…my community is gone. The heart of the community is still here, though, and donations like this prove we’re still living in a good society.
“I have so many positive things I could say. I think about them when I go to sleep at night, but it’s hard to express how we feel. The gratitude we have down here—the people that are giving and donating get us through the hard times.”
Aulton Vann, Jr., of Aulton Vann Jr. Insurance Agency, located in Pascagoula, Miss. had his office 1.5 miles off the beach. After Hurricane Katrina, Vann returned to see more than five feet of water in his office—nine computers, six typewriters, 11 file cabinets, seven desks and chairs, and countless paper and office supplies were all underwater.
“This grant was a tremendous blessing,” said Vann. “It helped us pay bills we didn’t know we’d incur—such as new plumbing, new hookups, and new office supplies.”
Loretta Johnson, President and CEO of Third Millennium Insurance & Financial Services in New Orleans, did not have a flood in her office, but was trying to run her agency in an 8th floor office with no power.
“This grant was quite helpful,” said Johnson. “We had to get our equipment and files out of the office and to Baton Rouge. This covered our moving expenses. We had to get people to haul huge file cabinets down eight flights of stairs.”
“I am proud of all of the Big “I” members from around the country who have contributed to this fund. It confirms what many already know, that independent agents truly care about their communities, their country, their customers, and their colleagues in the independent agency system when they need help,” says Big “I” President Bill Stiglitz, an executive with Hyland, Block, and Hyland in Louisville, Ky.
To donate to the Big “I” Katrina Relief Fund, make checks payable to “Big ‘I’ Katrina Relief Fund” and mail to:
Big “I” Katrina Relief Fund
10 Executive Drive
Farmington, CT 06032
If you prefer to contribute via credit card, please go to the Big “I” Katrina Relief Fund site on the InsurBanc Web site at http://insurbanc.com/vsitemanager/smartforms/default.asp.
The Big “I” Katrina Relief Fund has 501(c)3 status, so all contributions qualify as charitable contributions and are tax deductible, to the extent permitted by law.
Founded in 1896, the Big “I” is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life and health—as well as employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.