The Senate early today passed by unanimous consent its version of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act extension bill.[@@]

The Senate bill, S. 467, would extend TRIA for 2 years but would not add protection for group life.

The House TRIA extension bill, H.R. 4314, would add group life to the program and offer protection with a relatively low deductible for terrorist incidents involving the use of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

The House probably will consider H.R. 4314 in early December, when it returns from the 2-week Thanksgiving recess.

The Senate TRIA extension bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., would:

- Raise the “trigger” for federal involvement in paying claims for an act of terrorism from the current figure of $5 million to $50 million in the first year and $100 million in the second year.

- Raise the retention level on claims from the current figure of 15% to 17.5% in the first year and 20% in the second.

- Reduce the number of property-casualty business lines covered by the federal backstop program.

- Provide for a firm Dec. 31, 2007, program cut-off date. The House bill would allow the TRIA program to be extended for a third year.

“If enacted, this legislation will satisfy the short-term needs of the insurance industry while promoting the development of private market solutions,” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, says in a statement about passage of S. 467.

The White House has issued a statement praising S. 467 and attacking House efforts to protect group life insurers.

“The administration strongly supports the [Senate] bill’s exclusion of additional lines of coverage and will strongly oppose any efforts to add lines of coverage, including group life insurance, or further expand the program,” the administration says in the statement.

Links to the updated text of the bill and other information about the bill are on the Web at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:s.00467: