The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, inflicted enormous losses on both the American economy and the insurance industry. As a result, many insurers stopped providing terrorism risk coverage after suffering what was then the most costly disaster in the history of insurance. In the wake of the financial disruptions that took place in 2001, the government enacted the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), a public-private cost-sharing arrangement that requires private insurance companies to provide terrorism risk coverage in exchange for federal financial backing. Congress originally designed TRIA as a temporary three-year government back stop, however, the bill was extended for two years in 2005 and for an additional seven years in 2007. Without Congressional intervention, TRIA is currently scheduled to sunset on December 31, 2014.
TRIA'S status has become a point of contention on Capitol Hill. Supporters of the program laud the bill for lowering premium costs and increasing commercial terrorism risk policy coverage across the country. However, critics of TRIA say that it places undue financial pressure on taxpayers—particularly those living in non-urban areas with less of a terrorism threat—and substitutes public money for private insurance risk.
How much of a terrorism threat does the U.S. still face? Does this threat differ by city and region? Is TRIA a common-sense solution that benefits insurers and policyholders alike, or do taxpayers bear the burden of unnecessary insurance bailouts? And should TRIA be reauthorized by the end of this year? On April 14, National Journal hosted a regional policy summit at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois, to convene the nation's key opinion leaders for a robust discussion about the future of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act.