U.S. Lawyer Urges Global Definition of Terrorism

July 10, 2002

Atlanta-based attorney Tom Player, who chairs the Insurance group at Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP, announced that he plans to propose the adoption of a global definition of terrorism for the insurance industry at the opening session of the 2002 Conference of the Asia-Pacific Risk and Insurance Association (APRIA) July 21-24 in Shanghai, China.

Player indicated that after the events of Sept. 11 insurance coverage for terrorist related events has become very difficult to obtain. He warned that insurers and reinsurers are justifiably worried that another such event could cause widespread bankruptcies in the industry. He recognized, however, that solutions must be found that would permit businesses, stadiums, governments, and non-profit organizations to obtain coverage. They are currently faced with the dilemma of paying more premium for less coverage, Player indicated.

While several countries, including the U.S., are exploring solutions to the problem, Player stated that, “definitions of terrorist acts are a ‘patchwork quilt,’ with each country, and pending bills before the U.S. Congress, offering a different definition.”

He will present the paper, “A Global Definition of Terrorism,” that he co-authored with Harold Skipper, chairman of the Department of Risk Management at Georgia State University and attorney Janet Lambert of the British law firm Barlow, Lyde & Gilbert, at the conference on July 24.

In searching for a common definition that both governments and insurers worldwide could adopt as a standard, the authors recommend following the solution established by the U.K. facility, Pool Re, that “any act of terrorism be certified as such by the senior judicial or administrative official designated by the adopting government.” They also noted that this provision is a “consistent element in each of the bills pending before the U.S. Congress.

“Such a definition would allow governments and insurers to react more consistently to the need to reimburse businesses for terrorist acts,” Player stated.

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