I have to admit that I have always been bemused–not to mention mystified, confounded, confused, annoyed, angered and downright flabbergasted–at, one, the refusal of the Bush administration to sanction including group life insurance under the aegis of terrorism risk insurance legislation, and, two, the craven acceptance of this misguidedness by Congress.
Amazingly, group life was included in the House version of the extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act that was passed last year. I say amazingly because I’m hard pressed to come up with another example of the House diverging so much from something the White House wanted–or in this case, didn’t want.
However, it was the Senate version of the bill which ultimately went to President Bush for his signature. And in that bill was encased a scaled-down version of the original TRIA program, rather than the expansion many in the industry hoped for.
The Senate version, needless to say, did not include group life.
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In any case, the extension is set to expire after Dec. 31, 2007, which is likely why some hearings on the issue have recently occurred and why the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report on life insurers and the so-called NCBR risks.
NCBR risks–standing for nuclear bombs, biological weapons, chemical weapons or radiological materials–in the post-9/11 era are not the stuff of science fiction, unfortunately, but represent possibilities that are all too real.
After occurrences like anthrax scares in this country and Sarin on subways in Japan, such threats to human life need to be taken seriously–certainly as seriously as the threat of damage to an office building.
Apparently, however, providing compensation for damage to buildings is considered by the administration and its lackeys to be more important than compensating for the destruction of human life.