This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, September 20, 2001.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: So who's going to pay for all this damage? Insurers, that's who. And no one knows that better than this guy. Joining us now is the chairman and CEO of MetLife, Robert Benmosche. Robert, good to have you.
ROBERT BENMOSCHE, CEO, METLIFE: Neil, good to be here.
CAVUTO: I hear all sports of dollar estimates, besides the horrific human toll here that this will be the most expensive disaster in U.S. history. Is that a given now?
BENMOSCHE: I think that if you think about it for the entire industry from the property casualty side, life side, there is no doubt about it.
CAVUTO: For you what does it mean?
BENMOSCHE: For us it's, as you said, the human side of it is the hardest toll for us.
CAVUTO: Yes, you are not that far.
BENMOSCHE: We are not that far. We had some people in the building and we are now going to process the claims for all those families and that is emotionally draining for our people, and we have to do that with a lot of courage and I give our people a lot of courage. But for the cost of it, it will probably cost us somewhere around 300 million after taxes, but as I said our company is strong enough to be able to handle that kind of payment.
CAVUTO: Let me ask you this. If it is ultimately declared an act of war, are you responsible?
BENMOSCHE: Well we have language, but we are not interested in language. The key for us is that we need to make sure that people who believe they had benefits with us we are going to make sure we step. There is no doubt that whatever is declared in this situation, MetLife has already started mailing out checks.
In fact, I was just at the relief center here on the west side, one of the families stopped by and was surprised to find out without any work on their part we already started the mailing. In fact, their check was in the mail already. So we believe that we should proceed without any issues of documentation of someone to begin to get the benefits to people.
CAVUTO: What do you want to hear from President Bush tonight?
BENMOSCHE: I want the president to be clear. I want the president to be confident. I want the president to talk about things we can do, but while I know there is feeling for revenge and saying things that we need to do to deal with the pain, we must be thoughtful, we must be right, and the important thing we need to do as a company as well as a country, is we all have to get back into our futures again, and get past this. So revenge does not let us do this. I hope we do the right thing to curtail these types of activities of terrorism, but we have to be correct when we do it.
CAVUTO: It's all just a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a few other guests, Robert, but this issue of we panic as a country, stopping the buying, stopping the normal pattern of life, and that it is hard for us to get back. Again understandably, I know how this sounds, but are we, as a nation, becoming too insolent?
BENMOSCHE: I think we are going through a tough period of time. This is a huge drain on us emotionally, but I believe you will see every day, the American people will get back to doing what they need to do.
CAVUTO: What does this need to make them snap back. What we saw at the Persian Gulf crises it was out going after Saddam, but until we did that, you remember, we were falling worse in the economy, worse in the stock market. We need to do something akin to that.
BENMOSCHE: I think we need to respond to what happened and do it appropriately. There is no question about that. But we also need to get on with our lives as well. We need to do both because this is not something that will happen in the Gulf War.
This is an enemy in shadows. This is people who take advantage of our freedom. And what we have to be careful of, is that we as a country do not become prisoners to our own freedom. And it takes some courage to do that.
CAVUTO: You bring a very good point because I think Wall Street and a good chunk of Main Street is waiting for that lightning quick response, that Persian Gulf response.
I do not think they will get that. I think this is, as you say, a protracted issue. But how do you convey that to people?
BENMOSCHE: I lived through the Vietnam War and there was another situation where we went through a long drawn-out affair, and not to say this is another Vietnam, but what it says is you are going to fight this battle and it is a battle that is going to be hard to win in a single time frame. You have heard that from the president, you have heard it from the secretary of defense, so we need to move on with our lives and realize this is a long-term solution.
CAVUTO: Robert, always good seeing you, especially under trying times for you. I appreciate it.
Robert Benmosche, the CEO of MetLife.
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