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Labor Day–the traditional end-of-summer respite for Americans–falls right in between two troubling anniversaries for insurers and society at large. One year ago last Tuesday, Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans, causing record losses, while five years ago next Monday, the nation suffered its deadliest and most costly attack when terrorists in jets took down both towers of New York’s World Trade Center. The forces of nature and of jihad might seem to have little in common, but for the property-casualty industry, the lack of a reliable backstop, private or public, for such losses is a critical connection.

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