WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 29, 2001 – The United States Chamber of Commerce today praised House passage of the Terrorism Risk Protection Act (H.R. 3210) to protect the availability of terrorism insurance coverage for millions of American businesses and limit lawsuits that seek to blame businesses for terrorist acts.
The U.S. Chamber urged the Senate to follow suit quickly, as the heightened risk of future attacks threatens to undermine primary insurers’ and reinsurers’ ability to provide adequate future commercial insurance coverage.
“Time is running out. If Congress fails to act before adjourning, the vast majority of businesses will lose their opportunity to obtain terrorism insurance before Congress returns next year,” said Bruce Josten, U.S. Chamber executive vice president. “Failure to provide an insurance backstop now not only would open companies to exorbitant costs and direct liability for future attacks, but also could wipe out the benefits of an economic stimulus package.”
The U.S. and global reinsurance industry does not have the capacity to provide protection against another attack, according to the Chamber. Many reinsurers have indicated that they plan to sharply reduce or eliminate coverage on potential terror targets, such as office towers, transportation hubs, sports arenas and critical infrastructure. Without reinsurance, primary insurers would be unable to shoulder the burden of full coverage.
The Chamber is urging Congress to pass a terrorism insurance bill – before the end of the session – with reasonable liability provisions that treat all businesses equally. “Acts of terrorism must not become a windfall for personal injury lawyers,” said Josten. “Without congressional action, those 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.”
The Chamber yesterday sent a letter to House members saying that it will consider votes on H.R. 3210 for inclusion in its annual congressional ratings. The Chamber also recently sent action-alert letters to its grassroots network of nearly 4,000 association and state and local chamber members and more than 45,000 activists across the country, and launched a print, TV and radio ad campaign in major markets.