The New York State Insurance Department today said that it expects all insurance companies in the state to participate in an exercise next month to evaluate the readiness of the nation’s financial services to survive a pandemic flu outbreak.
“There has never before been an exercise of this scope in the United States and all sectors of the financial services industry will be represented. It is important that all insurance companies, both large and small organizations alike, register to participate,” said Deputy Superintendent Louis W. Pietroluongo.
Designed to simulate a global influenza outbreak, the exercise is being sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and major financial services trade organizations. Insurance companies may obtain additional information and register by accessing the exercise website at www.fspanfluexercise.com.
The simulation will be conducted over a three-week period beginning Sept. 24. Participants will take part at their own locations accessing a secure website to respond to such scenarios as transportation, communications and telecommunications disruptions. Participants’ responses will be kept confidential.
“By participating, insurance companies will have an opportunity to review, test and update their pandemic plans against realistic scenarios that could cause massive absenteeism,” explained Pietroluongo, who is responsible for the department’s Disaster Preparedness and Business Continuity Planning.
“Continuity plans typically focus on disruptions, like earthquakes, that are limited in time and place, but a flu pandemic could hit in waves over a protracted period of weeks or months,” he said.
The government describes a pandemic flu as a global outbreak of influenza which is transmitted person-to-person and causes serious illness for which there is little natural immunity and limited prepared vaccine.
In addition to the Department of the Treasury, the exercise is being sponsored by the Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee, the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security and the Securities Industry and Financial Management Association.