WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 (UPI) -- American Council of Life Insurers President Frank Keating said the U.S. government's bailout plans had left the insurance industry out in the cold.
"As we say in the monastic life, it's the magnum silencium -- the great silence," Keating told The New York Times.
Regarding the insurers' ability to participate the TARP program, in spite of a massive rescue deal for American International Group, "we have not had our phone calls answered," Keating said.
Several insurance companies scrambled to make themselves eligible for bailout funds, buying banks in order to qualify.
Several are struggling, the Times said. MetLife, Prudential Financial and others had their credit ratings downgraded in February. Lincoln National and Genworth Financial are under review for possible downgrades.
A U.S. Treasury spokesman, Isaac Baker, told the Times insurers could award bonuses and severance packages until they received federal assistance.
It is unclear, however, if insurance companies would be subjected to financial stress tests the government is mandating for the nation's largest banks.
Insurance companies live in a more unpredictable environment than banks, given natural disasters and product liability issues. As such, their stress tests "would have to be very different," Douglas Elliott, at the Brookings Institution, told the Times.