A new House bill would add group life to the terrorism risk insurance program, extend the program for 10 years, and prohibit most use of travel destination information in underwriting.
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass., have introduced the bill, H.R. 2761, which would create the Terrorism Risk Insurance Revision and Extension Act of 2007.
The current TRIA law is set to expire at the end of the year.
Members of Congress have tried repeatedly to add group life to the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act program since 2001, but opposition from the Bush administration has blocked the addition of group life to TRIA each time.
In addition to extending and expanding TRIA, H.R. 2761 would require insurers to make coverage available to protect customers against chemical, biological and radiological terrorist attacks, but the bill also would provide more support for insurers affected by an NCBR attack than it would for insurers affected by a conventional attack.
The bill would add protection against acts of terrorism by U.S. citizens, and it calls for further study of the idea of developing a private terrorism insurance market.
The American Council of Life Insurers, Washington, praised lawmakers’ decision to include group life in the new TRIA extension bill.
“For millions of Americans, especially lower-income workers, [group life] is the only life insurance that their families can rely on if they were to unexpectedly die,” ACLI President Frank Keating says in a statement. “Adding group life insurance to the TRIA program will help ensure that group life insurers will have the capacity to meet their commitments in the event of a catastrophic terrorist attack.”
Section 11 of the bill, “Mandatory availability of life insurance that does not preclude future lawful travel,” is the section that would restrict travel underwriting.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla., introduced a travel underwriting bill in 2005, after a unit of American International Group Inc., New York, turned down her application for a life insurance policy. Wasserman-Schultz says the insurer rejected the application because she said she might travel to Israel.
A travel underwriting provision appeared in the TRIA extension bill that the House approved in September 2005, but lawmakers dropped the provision from the final bill after the ACLI lobbied against it.
The travel underwriting restriction provision in the new TRIA extension bill would limit use of travel destination as an underwriting criterion.
The provision also would put limits on use of practices such as charging extra for insureds who intend to travel to certain destinations, except when the federal government has ruled such travel dangerous because of an invasion, health risks or other significant risks.
A copy of H.R. 2761 is on the Web