I watched the entire proceedings of the AIG executives and other insurance industry experts such as NY Insurance Commissioner Robert Dinallo ( who did an exceptional job by the way) live on the internet as it was streamed out via Fox News online. You can still view the entire hearing if your interested by clicking here.
I feel genuinely sorry for Robert Willumstead who was brought in shortly before the collapse of AIG under the weight of it's financial products divisions bad bet on credit guarantees, and who had to be part of the ritual pinata bashing by the politicians on both sides of the isle who couldn't wait to get on camera and take a swing at these guys. Martin Sullivan is a career AIG guy who was selected after Hank Greenberg was forced out and should have known that division was a bad bet waiting to explode. One of the items that I did learn in listening to the testimony, and which needs to be made more widely known, was that the company STOPPED writing these guarantees all the way back in 2005 as they realized the ever increasing risk of what they were guaranteeing and the potential for disaster. However, the contracts were in place, the die was cast, the bad picture was glossed over, according to testimony provided today, and the train wreck occurred.
If you want to feel a lot better about the state guarantee system and insolvency of life insurance companies, check out the testimony from Commissioner DiNallo. As he said at one point, the one thing the state regulators get right is protection of policy holders and solvency, which should be a great comfort to structured settlement annuity holders all over the country. He also gave the first complete description and explanation of the $20 billion "loan" that the insurance companies were going to be allowed to give to the parent, revealing in full detail it was excess surplus funds and in no way were life company or P&C company assets in peril. If anyone is trying to get you to get out of an AIG annuity contract or structured settlement based on fear you need to show them this video.
Also, check out this link to the letter and story on Hank Greenberg, who was scheduled to appear but was too ill. His view was that the company would have been better off going into Chapter 11 as opposed to taking the government bail out plan. He seems to imply it was a shot gun marriage aimed not at saving AIG necessarily, but from saving other entities who hold it's debt or were signatories to their deals. His question was where were the internal controls and why the rush to Chapter 11. Good questions from a guy who probably knows this company better then anyone.
Do yourself a favor and view the entire testimony from the House oversight committee video feed. It's lengthy but you'll learn some things about the company, your congress, solvency funds and how this mess occured.