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TRIA advocates call for permanent terrorism insurance backstop


The federal government's terrorism insurance backstop should be reauthorized permanently, witnesses told the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

While lawmakers stopped short of endorsing a permanent program, the committee's leadership called for reauthorization of the backstop.

The program, created by the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002, is slated to expire on Dec. 31. Both the committee's chairman, Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and its ranking member, Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, made clear that they support extension of the program. The program was last extended in 2007 for seven years.

“We both agree that TRIA reauthorization is an important priority for the committee,” said Sen. Crapo.

Witnesses before the committee advocated reauthorizing the program on a permanent basis.

“We would like to see a permanent program,” said Carolyn M. Snow, president of the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc. Ms. Snow, who is also director of risk management at Humana Inc. in Louisville, Ky., said that if the program is not extended permanently, it should be extended for a minimum of 10 years.

Other insurance industry and business groups also called for a permanent terrorism backstop.

A permanent program would be the best way to protect taxpayers and the economy, said Warren Heck, chairman and CEO of New York-based Greater New York Insurance Cos., who appeared on behalf of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Cos.

“We'd like to see a permanent solution,” said Bill Henry, CEO of Dallas-based McQueary Henry Bowles Troy L.L.P., who spoke on behalf of the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers.

“I urge Congress to act now,” said W. Edward Walter, president of Bethesda, Md.-based Host Hotels & Resorts Inc., who spoke on behalf of the Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism. Failing to do so would “run the risk of short-circuiting” economic recovery, he said.