Insurance industry trade group officials lauded passage of the Senate version of legislation reauthorizing a federal backstop to terrorism risk insurance and urged the House to act promptly.

Leigh Ann Pusey, president and CEO of the American Insurance Association (AIA), said in the wake of Senate action that AIA “remains confident” the legislation reauthorizing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act will become law in 2014 “with strong bi-partisan support.”

The bill is S. 2244, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2014. It would replace a terrorism risk insurance backstop that expires Dec. 31. It passed the Senate, 93-4.

A trade group representing insureds had the same reaction.

“The Senate’s strong bipartisan vote for this legislation underscores the importance of TRIA and the need for reauthorization,” said Marty DePoy, spokesperson for the Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism (CIAT). “We hope the House will move just as quickly, in order to get a final bill for the president’s signature well before the end of the year,” he said. 

However, Joel Wood, senior vice president of government affairs for the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, raised a yellow caution flag. In a memo to CIAB members, Wood said, “In short, today has been a good day for moving the TRIA process forward, but the House obstacles remain significant. It is our fervent hope that these obstacles can be bridged in the coming weeks.”

He described the Senate bill as making only “tweaks” to the existing legislation.

Wood also told CIAB members that, because the TRIA legislation has been so widely supported, “there have been multiple efforts to attach non-terrorism issues to the legislation, leading one prominent legislator to warn against ‘Christmas TRIA.’”

He added, “We are nonetheless very grateful that in both chambers to date, the only ‘Christmas ornament’ that has been attached to the bill is the creation of the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB).”

Wendy Peters, Willis senior vice president and Terrorism Insurance Practice Group Leader, said, “While the Senate action signals a significant step forward,” the House will still need to vote on its own version of the bill which will then have to be reconciled with the Senate bill before it can be sent to the President for his signature. 

“With eight days left in session before summer recess for Congress, It is likely that final Congressional action will not take place until after Congress returns after Labor day,” Peters said.

“If action is not completed then, the legislation will have to wait for the expected lame duck session after the fall elections,” she said.

The Senate vote was “an important step toward keeping in place the vital protections for the American economy that the Terrorism Risk Insurance Charles M. Chamness, president and CEO of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, said, “The overwhelming, bipartisan support we’ve seen for this reauthorization demonstrates how much it has done for our nation, and how important it is to our economy.” 

Nat Wienecke, senior vice president, federal government relations of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), said, “It is great to see members of both parties come together in a broad bipartisan fashion to support America’s economic resiliency plan to recover from terrorist attacks.” 

Robert Rusbuldt, president & CEO of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, noted, “Agents and brokers must have the ability to provide terrorism protection to their customers in the event of another unthinkable attack on American soil.”

He said the current TRIA program “has worked well” to ensure the availability of this coverage and it is imperative that a lapse be avoided. We thank the Senate for their work to promptly move S. 2244 through the legislative process.”

Jon Gentile, national director of federal affairs for the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, said that, “We are pleased that the Senate bill extends TRIA for a full seven years and that it seeks to ensure the widest possible availability and affordability of terrorism insurance for consumers.”

Gentile “urged” the House “to quickly follow suit, so that Congress can get to work resolving differences between the Senate and House versions of the legislation.”

David Thomas, senior vice president of the American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA), said that, ““We are encouraged with progress made recently to finalize the respective bills in regard to the sunset provisions, financial triggers and treatment of nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological (NBCR) events.”

Thomas said that, “Wholesale insurance agents, brokers, program administrators and managers, aggregators and the markets “all need clarity of purpose in order to ensure the risks they are insuring for commercial and residential policyholders are readily available and properly structured to afford protection should a terroristic event occur.”