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TRIA Non-Renewal: Effect on P&C?

Losses stemming from the destruction of the World Trade Center and other buildings by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, totaled about $31.6 billion, including commercial liability and group life insurance claims — not adjusted for inflation — or $42.1 billion in 2012 dollars. About two-thirds of these losses were paid for by reinsurers, companies that provide insurance for insurers.

Concerned about the limited availability of terrorism coverage in high-risk areas and its impact on the economy, Congress passed the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA). The act provides a temporary program that, in the event of major terrorist attack, allows the insurance industry and federal government to share losses according to a specific formula. TRIA was signed into law on Nov. 26, 2002, and renewed for two years in December 2005. Passage of TRIA enabled a market for terrorism insurance to begin to develop because the federal backstop effectively limits insurers’ losses, greatly simplifying the underwriting process. TRIA was extended for seven years to 2014 in December 2007. The new law is known as the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (TRIPRA) of 2007.

This week, Congress failed to reauthorize TRIA before members adjourned for the holiday recess. Now, with the expiration of the law on Dec. 31, some businesses may be left without insurance coverage in the event of a terrorist attack on the U.S. Both houses of Congress have been discussing legislation that would set out the federal government’s involvement in funding potential terrorism losses, but bills proposed by the two houses earlier this year differed, and no extension was passed.

A report from the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center found that, under the current TRIA program, some insurers have already reached a level of exposure to losses from a terrorist attack that could jeopardize their ability to pay claims, based on a critical measure of solvency: the ratio of an insurer’s TRIA deductible amount in relation to its surplus. The report, “TRIA After 2014: Examining Risk Sharing Under Current and Alternative Designs,” found that as the deductible percentage rises, as it does under the Senate bill and proposals put forward in the House, more insurers have a deductible-to-surplus ratio that is above an acceptable level. The report also sets out in detail the amount the American taxpayer and federal government would have to pay under differing scenarios.

A RAND Corp. study published in April 2014 found that in a terrorist attack with losses of as much as $50 billion, the federal government would spend more dealing with the losses than if it had continued to support a national terrorism risk insurance program, because it would likely pay out more in disaster assistance.

A report by the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets made public in April 2014 generally supports the insurance industry’s view that the expiration of TRIA would make terrorism coverage more expensive and difficult to obtain.

The insurance broker Marsh released its annual study of the market, “2014 Terrorism Risk Insurance Report,” in April. Among its many findings is that uncertainty surrounding the potential expiration of TRIA significantly affected the property/casualty insurance market. Some employers with large concentrations of workers and companies with property exposures in major U.S. cities found that terrorism insurance capacity was limited and prices higher, and some could not obtain coverage at all. If the law is allowed to expire or is significantly changed, the market is likely to become more volatile with higher prices and limited coverage, the study concludes.

Before Sept. 11, 2001, insurers provided terrorism coverage to their commercial insurance customers essentially free of charge because the chance of property damage from terrorist acts was considered remote. After Sept. 11, insurers began to reassess the risk. For a while, terrorism coverage was scarce. Reinsurers were unwilling to reinsure policies in urban areas perceived to be vulnerable to attack. Primary insurers filed requests with their state insurance departments for permission to exclude terrorism coverage from their commercial policies.

From an insurance viewpoint, terrorism risk is very different from the kind of risks typically insured. To be readily insurable, risks have to have certain characteristics.

The risk must be measurable. Insurers must be able to determine the possible or probable number of events (frequency) likely to result in claims and the maximum size or cost (severity) of these events. For example, insurers know from experience about how many car crashes to expect per 100,000 miles driven for any geographic area and what these crashes are likely to cost. As a result, they can charge a premium equal to the risk they are assuming in issuing an auto insurance policy.

A large number of people or businesses must be exposed to the risk of loss, but only a few must actually experience one, so that the premiums of those that do not file claims can fund the losses of those who do.

Losses must be random as regards time, location and magnitude.

Insofar as acts of terrorism are intentional, terrorism risk doesn’t have these characteristics. In addition, no one knows what the worst-case scenario might be. There have been few terrorist attacks, so there is little data on which to base estimates of future losses, either in terms of frequency or severity. Terrorism losses are also likely to be concentrated geographically, since terrorism is usually targeted to produce a significant economic or psychological impact. This leads to a situation known in the insurance industry as adverse selection, where only the people most at risk purchase coverage, the same people who are likely to file claims. Moreover, terrorism losses are never random. They are carefully planned and often coordinated.

To underwrite terrorism insurance — to decide whether to offer coverage and what price to charge — insurers must be able to quantify the risk: the likelihood of an event and the amount of damage it would cause. Increasingly, they are using sophisticated modeling tools to assess this risk. According to the modeling firm AIR Worldwide, the way terrorism risk is measured is not much different from assessments of natural disaster risk, except that the data used for terrorism are more subject to uncertainty. It is easier to project the risk of damage in a particular location from an earthquake of a given intensity or a Category 5 hurricane than a terrorist attack because insurers have had so much more experience with natural disasters than with terrorist attacks, and therefore the data to incorporate into models are readily available.

One problem insurers face is the accumulation of risk. They need to know not only the likelihood and extent of damage to a particular building but also the company’s accumulated risk from insuring multiple buildings within a given geographical area, including the implications of fire following a terrorist attack. In addition, in the U.S., workers’ compensation insurers face concentrations of risk from injuries to workers caused by terrorism attacks. Workers’ compensation policies provide coverage for loss of income and medical and rehabilitation treatment from “first dollar,” that is, without deductibles.

Extending the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA):

There is general agreement that TRIA has helped insurance companies provide terrorism coverage because the federal government’s involvement offers a measure of certainty as to the maximum size of losses insurers would have to pay and allows them to plan for the future. However, when the act came up for renewal in 2005 and in 2007, there were some who believed that market forces should be allowed to deal with the problem. Both the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets published reports on terrorism insurance in September 2006. The two reports essentially supported the insurance industry in its evaluation of nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological (NBCR) risk — that it is uninsurable — but the President’s Working Group said that the existence of TRIA had inhibited the development of a more robust market for terrorism insurance, a point on which the industry disagrees. TRIA is the reason that coverage is available, insurers say. The structure of the program has encouraged the development of reinsurance for the layers of risk that insurers must bear themselves — deductible amounts and coinsurance — which in turn allows primary insurers to provide coverage. Without TRIA, there would be no private market for terrorism insurance.

Studies by various organizations have supported a temporary continuation of the program in some form, including the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, the RAND Corp. and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an organization of 30 member countries, many of which have addressed the risk of terrorism through a public/private partnership. The OECD said in an analysis that financial markets have shown very little appetite for terrorism risk because of the enormousness and unpredictability of the exposure. RAND argued not only that TRIA should be extended but also that Congress should act to increase the business community’s purchase of terrorism insurance and lower its price. RAND also advocated mandatory coverage for some “vital systems,” establishing an oversight board and increasing efforts to mitigate the risks.

For the full report from which this is excerpted, click here.

TRIA Non-Renewal: Effect on Work Comp?

I was greeted this morning with the news that Congress failed to act on the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) before adjourning for the year. This means TRIA will be allowed to expire at the end of the year. This was a big surprise, as most felt the House would be the reason for TRIA’s not getting extended. Last week, the House passed a TRIA extension bill, but it was the Senate that ultimately failed to take up a vote on the issue.

Why did this happen? Unfortunately, Congress has a habit of tacking unrelated riders onto bills with the hope of getting these issues passed. In this case, the House added amendments to NARAB II legislation, which has to do with licensing of insurance agents and brokers. Some in the Senate were not comfortable with those amendments, which kept the Senate from approving the House bill on TRIA.

So what happens now with TRIA? The new Congress will reconvene on Jan. 6, 2015, and the expectation is it will take up TRIA. However, given what just happened, you cannot assume the new Congress will pass a TRIA bill, and, even if it does, the bill may look substantially different than what was on the table.

What does this mean to the workers’ compensation industry? We have already seen the reaction from the marketplace. Back in February 2014, carriers started issuing policies that contemplated coverage without the TRIA backstops. We saw some carriers pull back from certain geographic locations, most notably in New York City, and particularly in Manhattan. We also saw some carriers change the terms of their policies and only bind coverage through the end of the year, giving themselves the flexibility to renegotiate terms or terminate coverage if TRIA did not renew. There were legitimate concerns that the workers’ comp marketplace in New York City would be in chaos by the fourth quarter of 2014 as brokers scrambled to place coverage beyond Jan. 1, 2015. The New York State Insurance Fund was in the middle of these discussions, as it faced the prospect of having to provide coverage for employers if the private marketplace did not respond.

As the year progressed, something else happened. The marketplace responded. While some carriers pulled back in certain geographic locations, others stepped up to take their place. While some carriers tied their policy expiration to the expiration of TRIA, other carriers did not. Ultimately, employers were still able to obtain workers’ compensation coverage in the private marketplace.

What does this mean going forward? There may still be some policies out there that have endorsements allowing the carrier to cancel or renegotiate terms if TRIA expires, but I do not get the impression that this is a widespread issue. Because workers’ compensation is statutory, and carriers cannot exclude for cause, there cannot be terrorism risk exclusions on a workers’ compensation policy. The carrier’s only choice is to provide coverage or decline the risk.

While this may not hold true for other lines of coverage, the workers’ compensation marketplace has adapted to the absence of TRIA. Carriers are likely paying more attention to their geographic concentration of exposures, which means employers will have fewer choices, and may see higher pricing. But, at the end of the day, employers should be able to obtain workers’ compensation coverage without the TRIA backstop in place.

Terrorism Risk: A Constant Reminder

With just months to go until the year-end 2014 expiration of the government-backed Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (TRIPRA), the debate between industry and government over terrorism risk is intensifying.

The discussion comes in a year that marks the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing—the first successful terrorist attack on U.S. soil in more than a decade. The April 15, 2013, attack left three dead and 264 injured.

Industry data shows that the proportion of businesses buying property terrorism insurance (the take-up rate for terrorism coverage) has increased since the enactment of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) in 2002, and for the last five years has held steady at around 60% as businesses across the U.S. have had the opportunity to purchase terrorism coverage, usually at a reasonable cost.

However, should TRIPRA not be extended, brokers have warned that the availability of terrorism insurance would be greatly reduced in areas of the U.S. that have the most need for coverage, such as central business districts. Uncertainty around TRIPRA’s future is already creating capacity and pricing issues for insurance buyers in early 2014, reports suggest.

New Aon data show that retail and transportation sectors face the highest risk of terrorist attack in 2014. Both sectors were significantly affected in 2013, as highlighted by the Sept. 21, 2013, attack by gunmen on the upscale Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, as well as the Boston bombing.

The vulnerability of the energy sector to a potential terrorist attack has also been highlighted following an April 2013 assault on a California power station when snipers took down 17 transformers at the Silicon Valley plant.

The Boston Marathon attack—twin explosions of pressure cooker bombs occurring within 12 seconds of each other in the Back Bay downtown area—adds to a growing list of international terrorism incidents that have occurred since the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2001, and highlights the continuing terrorism threat in the U.S. and abroad.

Following 9/11, the 2002 Bali bombings, the 2004 Russian aircraft and Madrid train bombings, the London transportation bombings of 2005 and the Mumbai attacks of 2008 all had a profound influence on the 2001 to 2010 decade. Then came 2011, a landmark year, which simultaneously saw the death of al-Qaida founder Osama bin Laden and the 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

While the loss of bin Laden and other key al-Qaida figures put the network on a path of decline that is difficult to reverse, the State Department warned that al-Qaida, its affiliates and adherents remained adaptable and resilient and constitute “an enduring and serious threat to our national security.”

A recently published RAND study finds that terrorism remains a real—albeit uncertain—national security threat, with the most likely scenarios involving arson or explosives being used to damage property or conventional explosives or firearms used to kill and injure civilians.

The Boston bombing serves as an important reminder that countries also face homegrown terrorist threats from radical individuals who may be inspired by al-Qaida and others, but have little or no actual connection to known militant groups.

In a recent briefing, catastrophe modeler RMS assesses that the U.S. terrorist threat will increasingly come predominantly from such homegrown extremists, who because of the highly decentralized structure of such “groups,” are difficult to identify and apprehend.

Until the Boston bombing, many of these potential attacks had been thwarted, such as the 2010 attempted car bomb attack in New York City’s Times Square and the attempt by Najibullah Zazi to bomb the New York subway system.

Other thwarted attacks against passenger and cargo aircraft indicate the continuing risk to aviation infrastructure. The investigation into the March 7, 2014, disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 over the South China Sea aircraft with 239 passengers has raised many concerns over the vulnerability of aircraft to terrorism.

RECENTLY THWARTED TERRORIST ATTACK ATTEMPTS IN THE U.S.
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); various news reports; Insurance Information Institute

Counterterrorism success in 2011 came as a number of countries across the Middle East and North Africa saw political demonstrations and social unrest. The movement known as the Arab Spring was triggered initially by an uprising in Tunisia that began back in December 2010. Unrest and instability in this region continues in 2014 and has spread to other parts of the world with violent protests seen most recently in Ukraine, Venezuela and Thailand.

Another evolving threat is cyber terrorism. The threat both to national security and the economy posed by cyber terrorism is a growing concern for governments and businesses around the world, with critical infrastructure, such as nuclear power plants, transportation and utilities, at risk.

All these factors suggest that terrorism risk will be a constant, evolving and potentially expanding threat for the foreseeable future.

For the full report on which this article is based, click here.

Employee Concentration Impacting Workers' Compensation Renewals

Workers' compensation continues to be a challenged line, with historically poor results, a benign interest rate environment, and diminished prior year reserve redundancy. Another issue worth noting is the uncertainty around the potential 2014 extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (TRIPRA), which has heightened the focus on aggregation of workers' compensation risk.

Employee Concentration
For years, carriers have monitored workers' compensation exposure aggregations (their cumulative exposures in a geographic area) as a way of assessing the potential impact that an earthquake would have on their book of business. Such analysis has been commonplace in earthquake prone areas, such as California, for many years. However, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, workers' compensation carriers and reinsurers immediately began to focus on employee concentration in large cities which were deemed high risk targets for terrorist events.

Insurance carriers continue to view risks from a concentration perspective — both on an individual accounts basis as well as the aggregate across their portfolio and correlated lines of business. Some carriers will decline a risk outright simply because they are “overlined” in a particular zip code or city. Or, the carrier might impose a surcharge on the premium for the use of their limited capacity for a particularly large workers' compensation risk.

Reinsurers similarly set a maximum amount of capacity they can offer in a particular geographic area and for catastrophic loss scenarios. Insurers purchase this capacity as one way to reduce their potential to incur an outsized catastrophic loss and manage their modeled worst case scenario within their financial risk tolerance.

To that end, catastrophic models have been developed. Catastrophic models allow carriers to gauge their potential exposures in a geographic area under a variety of different event scenarios that are either probabilistic or deterministic in nature. During the last 10 years, carriers have made adjustments to their books of business according to the output of these models to limit their potential exposure to terrorist events — sometimes across multiple product lines.

A unique consideration with workers' compensation over other insurance contracts is workers' compensation policies have statutory coverage (in this case being synonymous with unlimited) rather than a stated limit which could cap a carrier's liability for a certain loss. Given the statutory nature of the coverage, it is difficult for carriers to estimate their maximum exposure to workers' compensation.

The issue of employee aggregation affects any employer with a large number of employees in a single location, but is highlighted in industries such as financial institutions, hospitals, defense contractors, higher education, hotels, professional services, and nuclear.

Impact Of Pending TRIPRA Expiration
Because of the significant financial impact of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Congress created the Federal Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) to provide a financial backstop to the insurance industry that would cap losses in the event of another large-scale terrorist event. The Act was initially set to expire at the end of 2005, but because of the ongoing risk of terrorism, and the reliance on it by insurance carriers, it has been extended several times. It is now set to expire on December 31, 2014.

When most people think of TRIA/TRIPRA, they think of the property insurance marketplace. Without this backstop in place, many high-profile properties would not be insurable in the commercial marketplace. However, workers' compensation is also deeply impacted, as there are large amounts of people working in highly concentrated areas.

Although the expiration of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act is almost two years away, the impact of this is already being seen in the marketplace. Employers in certain industries, employers with large employee concentrations, or in certain cities can expect less available capacity with some carriers scaling because of the increased exposure to their balance sheet created by losing some or all of the protections provided under the Federal Terrorism Risk Insurance Act. This trend has the potential to escalate and broaden as we get closer to the TRIPRA expiration date.

In addition, more employers may face increased rates for their workers' compensation coverage because of the combination of less competition and capacity, as well as an increased potential exposure for the carriers. If a policy is being issued that provides coverage beyond the TRIPRA expiration date, and the future of the legislation is not known, carriers will likely price this under the assumption those protections will be allowed to sunset or may be significantly modified.

What To Expect At Renewal
When faced with a potentially challenging renewal and one that may be impacted by this issue, what can you do? We recommend starting the renewal process early, at least 120 days (or more) prior to the policy or program effective date. In the case of Marsh, we will work with you to develop a communications strategy and presentation tactic around all key risk exposures, including modeling and risk analytics in support of your renewal objectives.

For carrier presentations and Q-and-A, insureds must be thoroughly conversant with details of exposures and operations; mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures; loss trends, safety programs, and risk management practices; and future plans, to the extent that they can be shared publicly.

We will help you be familiar with respective insurers' cost of capital and pricing strategy — understanding how carriers evaluate your firm's experience and risk profile, and how they initially develop rates and premiums.

High quality data differentiates employers in the eyes of insurance carriers. In today's environment, it is imperative that organizations provide underwriters with complete, accurate, and thorough data and analysis in order to differentiate their risk profile.

There has already been a significant increase in questions that carriers are asking at renewal that focus on the risks associated with a potential terrorist event. Employers with a large concentration of workers, especially those in major metropolitan areas, should be prepared to provide the following details to carriers:

  • Information on employee marital/dependency status.
  • Employee telecommuting/hospitality practices and impact on concentration.
  • Physical security of the building including information about guards, surveillance cameras, parking areas, HVAC protections.
  • How access to the building is controlled.
  • Construction of the building and location of the offices.
  • Management policies around workplace violence, weapons, and employment screening.
  • Employee security procedures.
  • Emergency response/crisis management plan.
  • Fire/life safety program.
  • Security staff.
  • Crisis management procedures.

In addition, carriers may wish to send their loss control engineers for a physical inspection of larger facilities and to interview building/facility management.

The Increasing Demand For Better Data
Because both insurance carriers and reinsurers focus on catastrophic models, it is extremely important that employers provide the highest quality of employee accumulation data, as this will ensure they are favorably differentiated by insurance carriers.

If your company has multiple shifts or operates in a campus setting, make sure you report both the total number of employees and the number working during peak shifts — as well as the actual buildings where the employees are located.

The number of employees working during peak shifts is the actual exposure to a terrorist event, not the total number of employees. Also, some businesses have a large percentage of their workforce in the field or telecommuting, rather than the office where their payroll is assigned. Providing this information to carriers significantly reduces the potential exposures associated with employee concentration. In addition, identifying the actual building where employees work on a campus — rather than a single building — helps overcome pitfalls of the catastrophic model. This also better reflects an employer's exposure to catastrophic losses.

As options about future real estate plans are considered (i.e. in terms of consolidation of employees from multiple locations in a city to a single location, or the impact of closing or consolidating satellite locations and relocating employees in major metropolitan areas), it is wise to review and consider the potential impact on workers' compensation pricing and capacity.

Because of the current political and economic climate in the US, renewal of the TRIPRA by Congress is far from certain. Marsh is continuing to monitor this issue closely, and we are working with employers and insurance industry representatives to raise awareness of the important role that TRIPRA plays in the insurance marketplace.

When Terrorism Becomes A Reality

This week's tragedy at the Boston Marathon has touched each of us on a very personal level and puts fear in our hearts that this could happen again. As the dust settles at the site, there will be many unanswered questions, and some of those issues will concern terrorism and insurance for terrorism.

What do we know at this point?

  1. It is being speculated that this is an act of terrorism.
  2. It is uncertain if it is an act of domestic or foreign terrorism.
  3. It is, also, unlikely at this point that this will be a Certified Act of Terrorism.

What are the immediate insurance issues that we see from this event?

  1. Severe injuries and death
  2. Direct damage to buildings and structures
  3. Direct damage to property (including vehicles)
  4. Closure of areas due to direct loss and civil authority
  5. Debris removal and damage
  6. Workers Compensation

For all of us in the insurance industry, we have to be asking ourselves:

  1. Are we offering terrorism coverage to our insureds?
  2. Are we going beyond just the offer of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) and offer stand-alone terrorism insurance, which is available in the insurance market place?
  3. Are we carefully documenting our conversations with our insureds about the terrorism offer?

The Insurance Community University has two important classes for you to attend:

Update on Terrorism Exposures and Insurance — May 7, 2013

  • Overview of terrorism risk and exposure
  • Review of TRIA (Terrorism Risk Insurance Act)
  • Terrorism Insurance

Insight on Errors & Omissions — April 25th and 26th

We have heard it a thousand times — “documentation;” but in light of the bombing, we have to take a harder look at what we are doing: your files must speak for themselves and contain the notes on discussions, offers, acceptances, rejections, and follow ups. The Errors & Omissions class is approved with various insurance companies, including Fireman's Fund for credit on your agent's Errors & Omissions renewal insurance.