PLUS Foundation Hasn’t Forgotten Industry Victims of Katrina

April 18, 2006

The PLUS Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS), reports that it has granted more than $90,000 to support its members and other insurance related hurricane relief efforts.

Giving priority to PLUS members affected by the storms, the foundation first granted $25,000 to individual applicants who suffered significant loss.

The PLUS Foundation identified all members residing in the federally designated disaster areas following the hurricanes of 2005 and offered an application for assistance. Those indicating significant uninsured loss were provided support.

Gilsbar, the largest employer of PLUS members in the New Orleans area, has an employee Katrina Disaster Relief Fund that PLUS supported with $30,000.

The remainder of the money PLUS raised, $39,255, was donated to the Big I Katrina Relief Fund operated by the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA).

Gilsbar, a privately-held commercial insurance and employee benefits firm located in the New Orleans area, has well over 50 employees who suffered significant damage in the storms. Many were dislocated from their homes for several months, and some are still unable to return. The company started a relief fund, identified those hit hardest and with least means to recover. The PLUS Foundation’s contribution of $30,000 nearly doubled the amount the fund had raised to date.

“The PLUS Foundation exists to do good works on behalf of the PLUS membership and the professional liability industry as a whole” said Steven Dyson, president of the PLUS Foundation. “We are pleased to serve as stewards, directing these resources to where they have the most impact in the insurance community.”

Jeff Klenk, PLUS president, commented, “Our association and our members are proud to go beyond our professional liability education role, and be proactive with such a tremendous outpouring of generosity. This success speaks to the charitable nature of our group.”

“There is no way to describe the pain of losing everything you own and to have to start again with almost nothing”, said Rhonda Brehm, coordinator of the Gilsbar relief effort. “It is because of the generosity of people and organizations such as yours that we, the citizens of the New Orleans area, know that we are not alone in this and can look forward with hope to the future,” she told PLUS officials.

“Your support will help our Gilsbar families rebuild their lives. Parents will once again be comforted that they have a home for their children; children will once again know the security of sleeping in their own bed, safe and snug, each night. This is how our city will come back, family by family, home by home – with patience, hard work, and the kindness of good people.”

“We appreciate the PLUS Foundation’s commitment to helping agents affected by Hurricane Katrina get back on their feet,” said Bob Rusbuldt, CEO of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. “Everyone in the insurance industry is doing what they can to help residents of the Gulf Coast put their lives back together.”

Rusbuldt’s organization has been part of the relief effort. 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.

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