Insurance associations are welcoming the Senate’s introduction of a TRIA extension, but some industry officials are concerned about language in the bill.
The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) and the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) are voicing concern about a provision in S. 2244 that would raise the deductible for insurers from a catastrophic attack by 33% for each company.
Moreover, Willis North America said in a statement that while the introduction of the bill is a “positive development,” it doesn’t lessen the disruption in the market because concern remains that the House won’t act promptly to support the Senate bill.
The Senate bill was introduced with nine co-sponsors Thursday. It would raise the deductible insurers must pay before the federal government from the current $27.5 billion to $37.5 billion over five years. Another change is to reduce the total amount the federal government will cover from the current 85% to 80% over the same five-year period.
PCI officials “applauded” introduction of the Senate bill and NAMIC officials “welcomed” it.
At the same, the deductible and co-pay-issues remains a concern. PCI senior vice president, federal government relations, Nat Wienecke, said he is concerned about the Senate’s proposal to increase each insurer’s co-share by a third, from 15% to 20%, “and the impact this will have on the availability and affordability of terrorism insurance for consumers.”
He adds, “Insurers are already being required under TRIA to provide terrorism coverage that goes well beyond their normal loss tolerance,” and increasing the co-share “will further undermine economic resiliency.”
Wienecke said the U.S. economy and the insurance markets are especially vulnerable to attacks involving nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological (NBCR) weapons, and that insuring against NBCR “is essentially trying to cover the failure of the government to interdict a war-like attack against our country.
“What available insurance protection is available for NBCR will become increasingly unstable if TRIA’s coverage is narrowed,” Wienecke said.
Jimi Grande, NAMIC senior vice president of federal and political affairs, agreed.
Grande said the program was designed to soften the economic blow of a catastrophic terrorism attack by providing insurers with a degree of certainty regarding their immediate losses, “but the co-payment increase runs counter to that thinking.
“Given the unpredictable and adaptable element of terrorism, along with a lack of information due to national-security concerns, terrorism risk is virtually impossible for insurers to measure,” Grande said. He added that lenders require coverage, but without the program the marketplace for terrorism insurance would shrink, bringing development to a halt.
“This program has and continues to work well, at virtually no cost to the taxpayer,” Grande said. “The Senate is right to extend the program for the long term, but we strongly urge them to reconsider the changes to the co-payment provision.”
Wendy A. Peters, Willis senior vice president, North America, called the Senate bill “a positive step forward” because it indicates bi-partisan support, and added that, “it is encouraging to see the Senate finally focus on this important issue.”
However, Peters said, “it does not preclude the possibility of further delays by the House of Representatives, who have been more vocal in their opposition” to extending the current reauthorization legislation.
Peters said Willis North American does not expect introduction of the Senate bill to have a significant impact on the market, because the disruption caused by the ongoing uncertainty to reauthorization persists, and carriers have already begun responding with the imposition of sunset clauses or other policy limitations as of renewal.
“Policyholders are well advised to be proactive in evaluating current terrorism purchasing requirements and making certain that, insurance purchased will address minimum requirements for loan agreements and statutory requirements,” Peters said.
In applauding introduction of the Senate bill, Martin DePoy, a spokesperson for the Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism, said, “TRIA cannot stop a terrorist attack, but it can undermine the goals of terrorists by providing a means for U.S. businesses and the economy to recover more quickly in the event of an attack.”