Senate votes to reauthorize terrorism insurance program

Bill seen as crucial to helping building owners secure risk coverage

Jul.July 17, 2014 05:20 PM

The U.S. Senate voted 93 to 4 on Thursday to reauthorize a program that provides a federal backstop for insurance costs in the event of a terror attack for an additional seven years.

The so-called Terrorism Risk Insurance Act is seen as crucial to commercial building owners because some insurers stopped offering terrorism risk coverage following massive losses incurred after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Under the law, the government pays most of the costs that exceed the first $100 million in damage in the event of a terror attack. The law was previously extended in 2005 and 2007.

Last month, Douglas Durst of the Durst Organization told WNYC that New York City developers would not be able to build or refinance without the program.

The Real Estate Board of New York President Steven Spinola praised the vote and the role of New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand in pushing the bill through.

“This action sends a clear message that protecting our nation and providing our industry with stability is of paramount importance,” said Spinola in a prepared statement. “The Senate’s actions bring us one step closer to ensuring that the public and private sectors are in position to provide shared compensation for insured losses, protect our economy, and allow for continued investment and job creation.”

The bill must now pass through the House of Representatives, where it faces opposition from some conservatives, including Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Reuters reported. The real estate industry lost a strong proponent of the program when Rep. Eric Cantor lost his seat in a primary last month, WNYC previously reported. [Reuters] — Tom DiChristopher

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