Friday, June 14, 2013
Specialist in Financial Economics
Prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, insurance coverage for losses from such attacks was normally included in general insurance policies without specific cost to the policyholders. Following the attacks, such coverage became very expensive if insurers offered it at all. Because insurance is required for a variety of economic transactions, it was feared that the absence of insurance against terrorism loss would have a wider economic impact. Terrorism insurance was largely unavailable for most of 2002, and some have argued that this adversely affected parts of the economy.
Congress responded to the disruption in the terrorism insurance market by passing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA; P.L. 107-297, 116 Stat. 2322). TRIA created a temporary three-year Terrorism Insurance Program in which the government would share some of the losses with private insurers should a foreign terrorist attack occur. This program was extended in 2005 (P.L. 109-144, 119 Stat. 2660) and 2007 (P.L. 110-160, 121 Stat. 1839). The amount of government loss sharing depends on the size of the insured loss. In general terms, for a relatively small loss, private industry covers the entire loss. For a medium-sized loss, the federal role is to spread the loss over time and over the entire insurance industry; the government assists insurers initially but then recoups the payments through a broad levy on insurance policies afterwards. For a large loss, the federal government would cover most of the losses, although recoupment is possible in these circumstances as well. Insurers are required to make terrorism coverage available to commercial policyholders, but TRIA does not require policyholders to purchase the coverage. The prospective government share of losses has been reduced over time compared with the initial act, but the 2007 reauthorization expanded the program to cover losses from acts of domestic terrorism. The TRIA program is currently slated to expire at the end of 2014.
The specifics of the current program are as follows: (1) a single terrorist act must cause $5 million in damage to be certified for TRIA coverage; (2) the aggregate insured loss from certified acts of terrorism must be $100 million in a year for the government coverage to begin; and (3) an individual insurer must meet a deductible of 20% of its annual premiums for the government coverage to begin. Once these thresholds are passed, the government covers 85% of insured losses due to terrorism. If aggregate insured losses due to terrorism do not exceed $27.5 billion, the Secretary of the Treasury is required to recoup 133% of the government coverage by the end of 2017 through surcharges on property/casualty insurance policies. If the losses exceed $27.5 billion, the Secretary has discretion to apply recoupment surcharges, but is not required to do so.
Since TRIA’s passage, the private industry’s willingness and ability to cover terrorism risk have increased. According to industry surveys, prices for terrorism coverage have generally trended downward, and approximately 60% of commercial policyholders have purchased coverage over the past few years. This relative market calm has been under the umbrella of TRIA coverage, and it is unclear how the insurance market would react to the expiration of the federal program.
In the 113th Congress, three bills, H.R. 508, H.R. 1945, and H.R. 2146, have been introduced to extend the TRIA program. H.R. 508 would extend the program’s expiration date five years, until 2019. H.R. 1945 would extend the program 10 years, until 2024, and add the Secretary of Homeland Security as the lead authority for certifying an act of terrorism. H.R. 2146 would extend the program’s expiration date 10 years, until 2024.
Date of Report: May 24, 2013
Number of Pages: 16
Order Number: R42716
R42716.pdf to use the SECURE SHOPPING CART
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Posted by Penny Hill Press, Inc. at 8:09 AM