WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 20, 2001 – The United States Chamber of Commerce today expressed its frustration over the Senate’s failure to enact legislation to ensure the availability of terrorism insurance coverage for millions of businesses and provide modest liability protections.
“The Senate’s failure to act is a serious blow to the economic recovery,” said Bruce Josten, Chamber executive vice president. “It exposes millions of companies to loss of coverage, direct liability for future attacks and exorbitant finance, transportation and other costs in an already challenging economic time.”
In the current high-risk climate, the reinsurance industry does not have the capacity to provide protection against another terrorist attack, according to the Chamber. With the increased likelihood of future attacks, many reinsurers plan to sharply reduce or eliminate coverage for millions of businesses and facilities. Without reinsurance, primary insurers cannot offer coverage to their customers when policies expire on December 31.
“The bill is not a ‘bailout’ for the insurance industry, but an appropriate federal financial backstop to help ensure coverage is available,” said Josten. “If companies and facilities are unable to obtain coverage, lenders could refuse credit, torpedoing many real estate transactions and economic development projects.”
Since September 11, the Chamber has lobbied aggressively in support of terrorism insurance legislation with modest liability provisions. “Without liability limits, trial lawyers who seek to exploit any future terrorist attacks will likely hamper our nation’s economic recovery, enriching themselves at the public’s expense,” said Josten.