NU Online News Service, Jan. 25, 11:18 a.m. – The American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, predicts life insurers will invest $29 billion in commercial mortgages this year, 8% more than they pumped into the market in 2001.

Total commercial mortage holdings could increase 6%, to $230 billion, ACLI says.

The estimates are based on a survey of 23 life insurers that are active in the commercial mortgage market.

Low interest rates and the recent shift away from default-prone corporate bonds should help boost commercial mortgage lending, according to Jack Nowakowski, manager of the ACLI investment publications unit.

One risk is the possibility that the mortgage market for big, high-profile commercial properties could dry up if Congress fails to protect property-casualty insurers against big terrorism claims, Nowakowski says.