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ILOVEYOU -- P.S. Do you have insurance?

Never have the words "I love you" struck fear into so many hearts. A virus dubbed "ILOVEYOU" that reportedly originated in the Philippines is causing worldwide electronic damage, shutting down e-mail systems and destroying electronic video and photographic files. And while an insurance policy is no fix to computer bugs, in these cases it can help put your business back on track.

The Insurance Information Institute (III), an industry information group, says that tailored business-interruption insurance policies will cover you in cases of malicious attacks due to electronic transmissions — such as those available through insurers like ACE USA, AIG, and The St. Paul Cos., for example — can pay to mend or replace damaged or lost computer files or damaged hardware.

Who was hit

The virus disabled e-mail systems on Capitol Hill and in British parliament. State Department officials found the virus in their servers early on May 4 and "shut off our connection with the outside world," spokesman Richard Boucher says.

The flood of infected e-mails forced major corporations, such as Ford Motor Co. and Lucent Technologies Inc., to shut down their e-mail systems. New Jersey's state government and government agencies all across the country did the same.

AT&T shut down an e-mail system serving 145,700 employees. "We're trying to give our tech support people enough room to find a cleanser and make us pure again," says AT&T spokesman Burke Stinson.

Are insurers showing their policyholders "love"?

Loretta Worters, a spokesperson for the III, says it's too early to tell whether or not insurance companies have yet paid ILOVEYOU claims because the damage reports are just now coming in. "At first we thought it just slowed down networks, but now we're hearing that the virus is affecting people's files," she says. What's more, a new "Mother's Day" virus — also spread through e-mail — has struck computers across the country, and damage reports related to it have yet to filter in.

Kae Lovaas, vice president of technology at The St. Paul, says that her company has not yet heard from any of its clients who need to invoke their insurance policies because of ILOVEYOU, but notes that the last couple of days have been "hectic."

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