Senate Expected to Follow House, Approve Terrorism Insurance Renewal

By | December 15, 2014

Supporters of renewing the federal terrorism reinsurance program are optimistic that the Senate will follow the House and approve it, however the exact day and time of the Senate vote this week remains unclear.

In addition to dealing with the S2244, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2014 (TRIPRA), the Senate has other business including confirmation of a group of nominees for executive and federal level posts and extension of tax breaks that are about to expire.

It is not clear how much time the Senate will take on business other than TRIPRA. The timing of any vote rests with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the willingness of senators to cede their time, and parliamentary maneuvering.

But the insurance industry, which supports the renewal, is optimistic that the Senate will find time to vote on the program before adjourning.

“They are going to get it done,” Nat Wienecke, senior vice president, federal government relations, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), told Insurance Journal today. “It’s hard to believe that the Senate would go home without getting this done.”

“We have been encouraged that Senate leadership continues to indicate they will vote on TRIA before adjourning,” said Leigh Ann Pusey, president and CEO, American Insurance Association.

The last three times the Senate reauthorized the program, it was done by unanimous consent.

The House overwhelmingly passed the bill last week, 417-17.

The measure (S2244) passed by the House and now before the Senate would extend the program for six years. It would raise the trigger for government reimbursement from $100 million to $200 million and increase companies’ co-payments to 20 percent from 15 percent.

Supporters are reminding the lawmakers how important they think the bill is. More than 50 trade groups signed a joint letter yesterday urging the Senate to pass the measure bill without further amendments. They included PCI, American Insurance Association, American Bankers Association, Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism, Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers, Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, International Council of Shopping Centers, American Association of Managing General Agents, Financial Services Roundtable, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, National Association of Home Builders, Real Estate Roundtable, National Association of Professional Surplus Lines Offices, Reinsurance Association of America, Risk & Insurance Management Society and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Not everyone is happy with the amendments in the TRIPRA bill but Wienecke said most of those who are upset agree that the terrorism insurance program is too important to let those differences derail it.

The House added an amendment to the bill to change the Dodd-Frank Act to exempt firms that trade commodity futures to hedge commercial risk from margin requirements and a requirement that the Federal Reserve have a governor with community banking experience. Some Democrats oppose the inclusion of the Dodd-Frank amendment in the terrorism insurance bill. Sen. Charles Schumer, D.-N.Y., a lead sponsor of the terrorism insurance reauthorization, criticized the House for adding the Dodd-Frank language.

The bill also includes an insurance producer licensing reform provision, the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act (NARAB). NARAB would create a nonprofit board for insurance agents and brokers to more easily obtain approval to operate on a multi-state basis.

Supporters of NARAB in the past have had to navigate opposition by Sen. Tom Coburn, R. Okla. Coburn has pushed an amendment that would permit states to opt out of the NARAB requirements, which the supporters say is really an attempt to undermine the very purpose of the legislation.

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