IIABA Applauds Agreement on Terrorism Insurance

The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) is praising President George W. Bush’s leadership and commending Congressional leaders for uniting to reach an agreement on pending terrorism insurance legislation that would create a federal backstop for future terrorism insurance claims, while recognizing that some significant hurdles still remain.

IIABA CEO Robert Rusbuldt and Senior Vice President of Federal Government Affairs Maria Berthoud repeatedly stressed the need for terrorism reinsurance to leaders of both political parties and several House-Senate conferees prior to the agreement among key conferees and the White House.

“We did everything we could to help all Congressional leaders and members recognize that the lack of affordable terrorism insurance has been plaguing the economy as a whole,” Rusbuldt said. “The business clients of independent insurance agents and brokers felt an anxious need for this legislation. The conferees deserve high praise for reaching an agreement that will help put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work and help our national economy ultimately recover from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”

The President has been emphasizing that 300,000 jobs are at stake and more than $15 billion worth of real estate projects have been stalled or canceled due to the unavailability of terrorism insurance.

“This agreement will preserve and restore jobs for dedicated American workers,” Berthoud remarked. “Many clients of independent agents and brokers have been adversely affected by the lack of terrorism coverage, leaving many IIABA members coping with non-renewals and other unnecessary obstacles. The President urged every business organization to do everything in its power to help advance this legislation into law. The Big ‘I’ has worked with the Administration, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), House Financial Services Committee Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) and many others by constantly reinvigorating our efforts throughout this negotiating process. The end result is an agreement that ends an unnecessary hindrance to our economy.”

Rusbuldt explained, “Everyone can find something they want to change, but most parties just refused to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

This federal backstop will enable many public-access facilities to attain the terrorism coverage they had great difficulty finding during the past year.

“Hospitals, office buildings, malls, stadiums, museums, churches and numerous other facilities where large groups of people gather will now have the long-awaited access to the terrorism coverage they need,” Rusbuldt commented. “This bipartisan compromise will enhance our economic vitality and overcome a significant barrier to job creation.

“This agreement would not have happened without the incredible leadership of the President,” Rusbuldt continued. “He pushed it virtually everyday and worked hard on the bill because he views it as a jobs bill and a needed economic stimulus. Sen. Dodd also was a committed leader who worked long and hard hours in an extremely difficult environment. He was resilient and never lost faith in this legislation. Chairman Oxley also was crucial in shepherding the bill through the House and negotiating key elements.

“No one should misunderstand that the situation surrounding this agreement is still very fluid. There are still some significant hurdles that must be addressed, and the process of attaining signatures on the conference report and exactly when and how the conference report can or will be considered is up in the air,” Rusbuldt added.

Editor’s note: According to a Reuters report, the tentative deal between the White House and lawmakers regarding limits to legal liability, hit a roadblock Thursday evening when a Wisconsin House member, whose task is to negotiate sections of the bill regarding legal issues, found the agreement unacceptable. Consideration for the measure pushes it back until possibly after the Nov. 5 elections, unless House members are asked to return by their leadership. House members left Washington D.C. on Thursday to return home for the upcoming elections.