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Moody 19s: Life Companies Lag On Terrorism

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U.S. life insurers and reinsurers generally are way behind property-casualty carriers in identifying terrorism risk exposures, a rating service says.

“With few exceptions, most U.S. life insurance respondents seem satisfied with their current capabilities, and they indicated no plans to expand or develop them,” according to a survey report by analysts at Moody’s Investors Service, New York.

The analysts studied how life insurers evaluate their exposure to terrorism and what life insurers are doing to manage it.

Terrorism could affect life insurers’ insureds and investment assets, and a biological, chemical or nuclear attack could be far more costly than the 9-11 attacks were, according to Laura Bazer, a Moody’s analyst who helped write the report.

So far, life insurers have responded far less quickly to the terrorism threat than property-casualty carriers have, Bazer says.

Bazer attributes the sluggish response to relatively low 9-11 loss levels, inadequate policy-level data and the high cost of formal terrorism risk modeling.

The recent move by the White House to keep group life out of the extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act is another factor, Bazer says.

“The life insurance sector, which has some large potential exposures to terrorism risk, essentially remains on its own,” Bazer says.


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