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Insurance a factor in disappearance

Investigators have been told that just two days after an American tourist was reported missing in Aruba, her travel companion tried to collect on a $1.5 million accidental-death insurance policy he took out on her, the Associated Press has learned.

A person who provided information to authorities told the AP that Gary V. Giordano, now detained on the Caribbean island, bought the insurance specifically for his five-day getaway with Robyn Gardner.

Aruban authorities have confirmed that Giordano had an insurance policy that covered the missing woman, but have not said who the beneficiary is, how much the policy is worth or whether Giordano tried to collect.

Giordano, 50, owner of a temporary staffing business from Gaithersburg, Md., traveled to Aruba with Gardner on July 31 and reported her missing two days later. He told police that she disappeared while the two were snorkeling.

He initially assisted the search but was detained at the airport Aug. 5 as he tried to leave Aruba. Authorities said they found discrepancies in his story. Giordano has denied any wrongdoing through his attorney.

A judge ruled Monday that there is enough evidence to hold Giordano until at least the end of August on suspicion of involvement in Gardner's presumed death. The 35-year-old woman's body has not been found and Aruban authorities on Thursday were preparing for a new, large-scale search of the island for her remains or other evidence.

Solicitor General Taco Stein, the spokesman for the investigation, has confirmed that Giordano had travel insurance but said authorities are still reviewing financial documents provided by U.S. authorities and are trying to determine if they are relevant to the investigation.

"It's not unusual in and of itself to buy travel insurance," he told the AP. "Loads of people do it."

Investigators were trying to determine if there was anything unusual about the policy.

The source told the AP that Giordano called American Express Travel Insurance on Aug. 4. He sought to confirm that the documents listing him as the insurance beneficiary had been received and wanted to begin redeeming the policy.

The FBI, which searched Giordano's home in an upscale Washington suburb, has been assisting Aruban authorities with the investigation and has put out a missing-person poster with three photographs of the 5-foot-4-inch blonde, including one showing a jungle-print design tattoo on her left shoulder. The exact nature of the relationship between Gardner, who had a boyfriend back home in Maryland, and Giordano, a twice-divorced father of three sons, isn't clear, but the prosecutor's office has said they stayed in a room together at a Marriott hotel in Aruba.

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