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Stanford Report, September 11, 2002

Himself a target of anthrax hoax, Seilbach now tackles insurance rates

Risk Management Director Jeffrey Seilbach says that covering the university's insurance needs has become more expensive and complicated since last year's terrorist attacks. Although Stanford relies mostly on self-insurance -- the university pays premiums to itself and then draws on reserves to settle claims -- it contracts with carriers to provide coverage for catastrophes. "The cost of insurance above [the university's] self-insurance has doubled in some cases," Seilbach says. Insurance companies are now concerned with covering potential terrorism and bioterrorism risks, requiring campus officials to provide additional information on certain chemical agents used on campus, and on areas where large groups of people gather, such as Stanford Stadium.

Seilbach and his staff also experienced the fallout from Sept. 11 on a personal level. In the midst of the deadly anthrax scare, two anonymous letters containing an unknown white substance were sent on Oct. 22 and 30 to the Risk Management office. On the first occasion, Seilbach and two co-workers were exposed. Employees in the buildings at 651 and 655 Serra St. were evacuated, and Seilbach and a staff member were disinfected by hazardous materials workers wearing moonsuits. "It was very scary," Seilbach recalls. The second time, Seilbach opened the powder-filled letter himself and immediately told his staff to leave the building. He pressed a panic button connected to the Department of Public Safety, and 651 Serra St. was quickly evacuated. The second incident sent Seilbach to the hospital to be treated for stress. "I was shaking like a leaf," he says. While on both occasions the substance turned out to be harmless, the incidents frightened many people. As a result, Risk Management's mail now is sent to an enclosed area. Although the perpetrator of the suspicious mailings has not been found, Seilbach says the police "were phenomenal. It really pointed out how prepared the university is. That gave me a good feeling."

--Lisa Trei

Jeffrey Seilbach

Jeffrey Seilbach