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Healthcare, Medicine and AIG

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The federal government recently announced a $100 billion rescue of American International Group [AIG], the largest insurer in the nation. Those involved in the business of insurance should know that it was the financial services operations and other non-insurance operations of AIG, and not its insurance companies, that forced the federal government to bail them out. Medical professionals should be aware, as well.

How it Happened

According to experts, the reason for AIG’s problems is two-fold. It is partly based in its dealings with credit default swaps, complicated financial instruments that investors use to protect themselves from bond defaults—which also caused the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

Insurers try to keep premiums low and profits high by investing. And while all insurers invest premiums in different forms of assets, AIG invested much of its enormous income in securities that were backed by sub-prime mortgages. As the mortgage-crisis came to a head, the value of those securities fell, creating financial problems for AIG. Insurers, like AIG, who attempted to profit from high risk investments found those investments to be so risky that they failed completely. When the investments failed, the insurer’s operating assets were reduced and it needed a major infusion of working capital. The federal loans, although enormous, are fully backed by saleable assets.

I Have AIG Insurance – Should I be Worried?

Generally no; because of the corporate structure of AIG. The holding company can be experiencing financial problems while the individual insurance company subsidiaries that agreed to insure you remain secure. They have more than adequate reserves to pay the claims anticipated. Each AIG branded insurer is a separate corporate entity that, by law, must maintain funds in secure reserves to pay claims presented.

And yet; First Professionals Insurance Company [FPIC] of Florida, recently told the SEC that it held securities with an amortized cost of $4.1 million in Lehman Brothers, $2.1M in American International Group, $2.5M in Morgan Stanley, $2.1M in Washington Mutual and $300,000 in Fannie Mae. 

Will AIG Claims be Paid?

Probably, yes. If the insurer has maintained adequate reserves, as required by state laws, there will be sufficient funds to pay all claims reasonably presented. If the individual insurer should fail, it will be taken over by the state where it is domiciled. If the insurer is faced with a catastrophe that it cannot cover and if your insurance is with an AIG company that is admitted to do business in your state, the state’s Insurance Guarantee Fund will pay your claim up to a limit that is usually no more than $500,000.  Of course, there is no absolute certainty in any situation relating to insurance, but the AIG companies are well-funded and very capable of handling all predictable claims.

On the one hand, if the insurer is put into receivership, the state regulator will use the insurer’s own assets to make payments before seeking funds from the insurance guarantee fund which is financed by assessments on all insurance companies that do business in the state. If, on the other hand, the AIG insurer is not admitted to do business in the state but does business through the surplus lines market, you are not protected by a guarantee fund and must be certain the insurer has the assets sufficient to cover any potential losses.

How Do I Determine That My Insurer Has Adequate Assets?

Contact your state department of insurance to determine if the insurer is admitted to do business and is protected by the Guarantee Fund. Also, check your policy; the insurer must tell you in writing if it is not admitted. Contact your state department of insurance to obtain financial documents filed by the insurer.


The credit-crunch is on everywhere, and hospitals filing bankruptcy this quarter include: a two-hospital system in Honolulu; one in Pontiac, MI; Trinity Hospital in Erin, Tennessee; Century City Doctors Hospital in Beverly Hills, Lincoln Park Hospital in Chicago, and four hospital system Hospital Partners of America, in Charlotte [See www.HealthcareFinancials.com; November 2008 issue].


Finally, conventional wisdom suggests a ratings reveiw of any policy provided the insurer by Bests. It should be at least “A” rated. Review financial ratings of the insurer issued by Standard & Poors. Of course, these have become suspect of late, too! So, search the Internet with a query including the name of the insurer and the words “financial problem.” Be sure to ask your insurance agent or broker.


Your thoughts and comments re appreciated.

Disclosure: Dr. David Edward Marcinko is the editor of Healthcare Organizations: [Financial Management Strategies] www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Speaker:If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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6 Responses

  1. More Federal Debt?

    If consumer debt got us into the current financial mess; how can more Federal debt via the bailout, be helpful?

    In the last decade the federal deficit has ballooned from 2.0 to 3.5 trillion dollars!
    So, how many generations will it take for our kids and grandkids, to pay this off?

    When you get into a hole; maybe it’s time to stop digging?
    -Dr. Mary


  2. AIG Stock Price

    I bought some shares of AIG a while back, as a counter-party diversification move, and hope to break-even soon if recent share-price advancements continue.

    Nevertheless, I am unsure of the status of $560-B of their Triple A super senior risk notes linked to so-called BISTRO trades, and how – if at all – these might affect current stock price?

    A similar concern is held about their CDO of ABS products; have these now been completely written off the balance sheet?

    Dr. David E. Marcinko MBA


  3. Dr. Marcinko,

    I believe the bad debt has been mostly written off the balance sheets of the TARP large banks; but perhaps not the smaller and regional banks. These may constitute the next round of [too] low capitalization strife.



  4. Repaying the Government’s Bailout

    MetLife is helping American International Group (AIG) repay its government bailout by allowing AIG to prematurely sell the MetLife securities it received as part of the $16.2 billion sale of its American Life Insurance Co., subsidiary to MetLife last November.

    AIG had promised to hold the securities for at least nine months. Instead, it will sell them and use the proceeds to reduce the $18.2 billion it still owes the U.S. Treasury.



  5. AIG Update

    Did you know that American International Group Inc. (AIG) is advertising to consumers using the AIG name for the first time in the U.S. since late 2008, the year it was bailed out.

    Yep, American International Group (AIG) Selling life insurance through the “AIG Direct” platform is a shift for the New York-based company, which renamed its global property-casualty unit and other businesses to avoid the stigma of a federal rescue that swelled to $182.3 billion.

    Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche, 67, is seeking to restore confidence in the insurer as he attracts investors to replace government funds. He told employees in 2009 that the AIG name may return if the company rebounded and started to repay debt to the government.

    AIG Direct is a marketing name for the insurer’s Matrix Direct business, an agent for selling life insurance over the phone.




  6. AIG settles DC, states’ complaint for $146.5M

    Hank – In a press release today, the American International Group Inc. and its affiliates have agreed to pay $146.5 million to all 50 states and the District of Columbia to settle a complaint that it misreported billions of dollars in workers compensation premiums in past years.

    AIG was accused of misreporting $21.1 billion in workers compensation premium as other lines of insurance in past years. And, the company agreed to pay a $100 million national penalty and $46.5 million in additional premium taxes and assessments.

    Dr. Narufa


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