Columbus-based supplemental insurer Aflac said today in a news release before the stock markets opened that its operations in Japan are up and running and ready to assist policyholders following the recent earthquake in the Tohoku area.
Aflac Japan's employees are safe, and the company continues to reach out to their independent sales force to assess their needs. The Aflac leadership teams from both the U.S. and Japan remain in close contact, the company announced.
"First and foremost, our thoughts go out to all those affected here in Japan," Aflac Japan President and Chief Operating Officer Tohru Tonoike said. "We are very grateful none of our employees were injured. We are working with our sales force to ensure that we provide them with assistance and help them take care of our customers. We remain ready to respond to the needs of our policyholders by paying claims swiftly, and will prioritize our response to those in the affected areas. We successfully executed our disaster preparedness plan and as a result, our operations stand ready to serve our policyholders and claimants."
While the hardest-hit areas were Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, less than 5 percent of Aflac Japan's new sales and in-force premiums are derived from these prefectures. Only two of Aflac Japan's 82 sales offices have been negatively impacted; these two offices, located in a single building in Sendai, have minimal damage, but will be closed temporarily due to power outages, the company announced.
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Aflac Chairman and CEO Dan Amos said: "As we look to the remainder of 2011, we expect Aflac Japan sales will only be minimally impacted by these events. Our earnings guidance for the year remains unchanged: we will likely be at the low end of the 8 percent to 12 percent range for operating earnings per diluted share growth in 2011, excluding the impact of currency."