The decision by White House officials and congressional leaders to keep group life insurance out of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act was a “terrible mistake,” a former state regulator said Monday.

“A catastrophic attack would put significant pressure on the [group life] industry,” Gregory Serio said here during a panel discussion at the annual meeting of the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting, Falls Church, Va.

Serio, who is now a managing director at Park Strategies L.L.C., New York, a lobbying firm, served as New York insurance superintendent from 2001 until January 2005. He took over as superintendent when his predecessor, Neil Levin, left to become executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Levin died as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

Another panelist, Mark Grier, vice chairman for financial management at Prudential Financial Inc., Newark, N.J., said insurance company managers are worried about the group life sector.

“There is a great deal of concern about the concentration of risk” in that product line, Grier said.

Congress extended TRIA for 2 years in December 2005.

Many members of Congress wanted to add group life insurers to the TRIA program, but Bush administration officials and some congressional leaders succeeded in an effort to exclude group life.

Critics of the idea of adding group life to TRIA argued that the group life market seems to have been functioning well since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks despite lack of TRIA protection.