What Happens to AIG Customers?

As insurance giant struggles, insurance customers worry about their benefits.

ByABC News
September 16, 2008, 2:47 PM

Sept. 16, 2008— -- An accident three years ago left Gloria Cirolo-Wright so injured that she couldn't continue with her job as a nurse. Today, the 57-year-old Massachusetts woman and her husband, a maintenance supervisor, rely on a weekly worker's compensation check from AIG to help make ends meet.

AIG is one of the world's largest insurance companies, with operations in 130 countries and products that include worker's compensation, auto insurance, life insurance and annuities. Now, as the company struggles to stay afloat amid losses related to the country's mortgage crisis, Cirolo-Wright is one of many customers questioning whether her benefits are in danger.

"I'm really worried that if AIG is going bankrupt that means that I won't have any source of income at all," she said. "I'm totally disabled. I'm just so scared I don't know what to do."

Exactly how worried should AIG customers be?

The insurance giant so far has defended the health of its multiple insurance businesses.

"The insurance policies written by AIG companies are direct obligations of our regulated insurance companies around the world. These companies are well capitalized and meet or exceed local regulatory capital requirements. These companies continue to operate in the normal course to meet our obligations to our policyholders," AIG spokesman Peter Tulupman wrote in an e-mail to ABCNews.com.

Tulupman said that customers with questions about certain AIG policies and products should call the following phone numbers:

Insurance experts say that even if AIG fails, there is a state-organized system in place to protect consumers and ensure that most continue receiving the benefits guaranteed by their insurance policies.

"There is a safety net in place for all insurance policy holders," said Roger Schmelzer, the president and CEO of National Conference of Insurance Guaranty Funds. "The personal insurance consumer is gong to be treated well under this safety net."