A Race against the Clock to Address TRIA Issues

Failure by the Senate to reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) has left unanswered questions for insurance buyers facing renewals on terrorism coverage—which some in the insurance industry are scrambling to answer.

Because TRIA renewal was recently passed by a majority in the House of Representatives, the industry was optimistic about its renewal before its expiration. But at this point, the Dec. 31 deadline looms large.

AIR-Worldwide explained in an email notice that commercial insurers will no longer be required to offer terrorism coverage beginning Jan. 1. Without a federal backstop, they said, insurers may seek to limit underwriting for high concentrations of risks in major cities. This could cause terrorism insurance coverage to become unavailable or unaffordable.

AIR continued:

Insurers that do continue to offer commercial terrorism insurance would likely be required to maintain higher capital standards in order to avoid negative rating implications. Where coverage for terrorism-related events is still available, prices for this coverage will increase.

In the absence of TRIA, the workers’ compensation insurance market would be particularly vulnerable to terror attack losses. State workers compensation statutes offer insurers less flexibility to control terrorism risk through modifications such as policy limits or coverage exclusions. With or without TRIA, it is mandatory for U.S. employers to provide workers’ compensation coverage. If coverage is not available, employers may be forced to purchase insurance in the residual markets or self-insure. This could result in large amounts of risk being transferred to the residual market in a few states.

Allowing TRIA to expire would have widespread implications, not only for the insurance industry, but also for the broader economy. Construction and real estate business sectors may be unable to obtain financing without adequate terrorism coverage in place. If insurers limit underwriting following an expiration of TRIA, businesses with high concentrations of employees could have difficulty obtaining coverage for workers’ compensation, including higher education institutions, hotels, airports, hospitals, and financial services, among many others.

In an advisory to its clients, Willis addressed considerations and offered preliminary guidance.

The broker noted several scenarios, depending on how a company has organized its terrorism risk transfer program:

• For terrorism coverage that is currently embedded in all-risk property, liability and workers compensation programs there are three potential scenarios:

1. If there are no sunset clauses–contract provisions which may allow the insurer to exclude coverage for terrorism in the event that TRIA is not reauthorized–or reservation of rights clauses related to TRIA expiration, the program will run until its natural expiration. Market disruption may impact renewal pricing if no action has been taken on TRIA.

2. If there is a TRIA-related sunset clause, the terrorism coverage will expire after Dec. 31. Policyholders should assess the need for insurance coverage and seek stand-alone coverage or a sunset clause extension.

3. If there is a reservation of rights which allows carriers to modify the terrorism coverage as a result of TRIA expiration, a coverage extension should be negotiated if possible, and stand-alone alternatives should be sought.

Stand-alone Terrorism coverage – In this case, Willis said it does not anticipate immediate changes due to TRIA’s expiration. This is because most stand-alone placements do not have sunset clauses or reservation of rights endorsements related to TRIA expiration. While there may be market disruption to consider at renewal, for the time being, TRIA is a non-issue for these placements.

Captives – In all cases where it places terrorism reinsurance behind a captive program, Willis said the reinsurance arrangement this year has been organized to convert from quota share reinsurance of the captive—when a primary insurer and reinsurer establish a fixed percentage for sharing amounts of insurance, premiums and losses—to primary reinsurance of the captive (in anticipation of TRIA’s expiration). Reinsurance coverage agreements should be read carefully to determine the new limit. The new primary limits are likely to approximate their existing quota share capacity. Willis recommends that any capacity that does convert should remain as reinsurance of the captive. This would maintain captive involvement, should TRIA be reauthorized in early 2015, and avoid any direct self-procurement or frictional costs during the transition. A program may also include excess capacity which, in many cases, should drop down to provide excess over revised captive limits, Willis advised.

Insurance Industry ‘Disappointed’ by Senate’s Non-Renewal of TRIA

Last week’s optimism about the possible reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act was replaced by “disappointment” today, as the insurance industry sounded off about the Senate’s failure to pass the House-approved TRIA bill before adjourning. TRIA, the federal insurance backstop that requires insurers to offer terrorism insurance coverage to policyholders, is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2014. More than 60 percent of all U.S. businesses purchase terrorism insurance coverage, according to Marsh USA.

“A major terrorist attack occurring without a TRIA law on the books will be far more disruptive to the U.S. economy than one where TRIA is in place,” Robert Hartwig, Ph.D., president of the Insurance Information Institute and economist said in a statement. “Terrorism insurance policies are going to lapse in 2015, and insurers will be under no obligation to renew them, adversely impacting the construction, energy and real estate industries, among others. For instance, a theatre owner hosting a controversial movie premiere on Christmas Day may have insurance coverage for losses triggered by an act of terrorism but this same business might not have it if a comparable attack were to occur on New Year’s Day.”

The Coalition to Insure Against Terrorism (CIAT) spokesperson Marty DePoy said, “CIAT is incredibly disappointed that the Senate chose to adjourn without reauthorizing the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, a program that since 9/11 has provided critical stability to the marketplace against another terrorist attack. This is a bipartisan failure; the 113th Congress has let down American workers, American businesses and jeopardized U.S. economic and national security. CIAT urges the new Congress to make TRIA reauthorization its top priority in January and immediately vote to extend the program for the long-term.”

RIMS President Carolyn Snow echoed disappointment. “We are extremely disappointed that Congress failed to pass an extension of TRIA, despite strong bipartisan support. The program’s expiration will have many negative repercussions for commercial insurance consumers, the countless organizations they represent and the U.S. economy as a whole.”

She noted that since its inception, “TRIA has stabilized the marketplace by providing adequate capacity at affordable rates. Its expiration will almost certainly cause rates to rise, placing many lending agreements in jeopardy and forcing some organizations to self-insure or simply go without.”

Leigh Ann Pusey, president and CEO of the American Insurance Association (AIA), said AIA is “incredibly disappointed,” adding that by letting TRIA lapse, “Congress has failed to protect taxpayers and the economy.”

She said, “Without TRIA in place on Jan. 1, insurers will be forced to assess their exposures. The program’s lapse will significantly jeopardize the terrorism insurance marketplace that currently protects our nation’s economy against major acts of terrorism. We strongly urge the new Congress to take up the House-Senate negotiated TRIA reauthorization package as its first item of business when it returns in January in order to minimize marketplace disruptions.”

Global risk advisor, Willis expressed disappointment as well, noting that its biggest concern is that Clients “will need help in reevaluating their risk exposures according to the changed environment where TRIA is no longer available as a back stop for the insurance market place. Of particular concern is where clients have loan covenants that determine the type and amount of terrorism insurance coverage that is required.”

Mike Becker, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents observed, “Disagreement won the day and politics took precedence over protecting the American people. There was overwhelming bipartisan support to renew TRIA, with both parties showing strong leadership to get a compromise deal done in recent weeks. That support was nearly unanimous, with the House approving the TRIA renewal deal 417-7 last week, and the Senate having already passed a similar version 93-4 last July.”

Snow concluded, “RIMS and many other organizations have been pushing Congress to pass an extension for the past two years but Congress senselessly ignored those concerns and waited until the very last moment. This delay has ultimately led to the worst possible outcome.”

Lack of Skilled Workers a Challenge Facing Construction Industry

NASHVILLE—While a number of issues face the booming construction industry, one concern that has been discussed throughout the IRMI Construction Risk Conference here is the shortage of skilled workers. Projects are larger than ever, with technology and the global supply chain only adding to their complexity, making it even more difficult to find talent.

“The construction industry is absolutely in a war for talent,” said keynote speaker Dominic Casserley, chief executive officer of Willis Group Holdings. He cited a 2013 Willis survey that found 93% of respondents listed a “lack of skilled workers” as their biggest concern. He noted that many workers who left the construction industry during the financial crisis have since gained new skills in other areas and are not coming back.

An example, he said, is in his home, the United Kingdom, which decided in the last two years to return to building nuclear power stations. They had not done this for a number of decades and “quickly found that there were no engineers left. There was nobody capable of building a nuclear power station in the United Kingdom, so our new power station is being built by our great friends, the French. That’s what happens if you lose talent in an area of construction.”

Organizations are putting programs in place in the emerging markets to train talented resources “close to where the action is,” he said. Going forward, however, “We don’t see this challenge getting any easier.” Looking at millennials as a potential workforce, which represent 27% of the U.S. population, “you will see that they have some pretty interesting attitudes about work.”

Casserley noted that of millennials:

● four out of five feel they need to be recognized for their work and want regular feedback

● 72% would like to be their own boss

● 79% would like to have their boss serve as a coach or mentor

● 88% prefer a collaborative to a competitive work culture

● 88% want to integrate work and home life

● 74% want flexible work schedules

Asked how firms can bring millennials into their workforce and be flexible while still getting the job done, he said he views this as an opportunity for companies. “I think this is a very talented, aspirational, exciting generation. They are highly tech-savvy and have grown up in a global world.”

What employers will need to do, he said, is to “get their minds around how to harness that asset.” An interesting aspect about millennials, he noted, is their belief in having social value in what they do. “I can tell you, that for the generation entering the workforce today, that really matters. They want to work for a firm that means something to them so they can go home and feel proud of what they do.”

While all generations may feel this way, millennials are expressing it more openly. “And until you can get your mind around describing what [your industry] does and why it is important to the way the world goes around, I think we will struggle to attract and attain people, particularly that generation,” Casserley said, adding that if members of the industry don’t do this, “you are going to constantly lose people.”

Jack Gibson, president and CEO of the International Risk Management Institute (IRMI), agreed, noting that the construction industry is often viewed as a workplace where people are injured and the insurance industry is seen as a life insurance sales force. “Both industries do so much good, but we have not done a very good job of delivering that message,” he said. Gibson encouraged contractors to get involved in mentoring programs as well as the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF), which has contributed more than $18 million in local community grants and more than 155,000 hours of volunteer service.

The Insurance Industry Needs More Dynamic Models

Simpler, but more dynamic capital models are what the insurance industry needs in order to avoid suffering some of the same problems it did during the financial crisis that began in 2008, according to the Willis Economic Capital Forum (WECF), a Georgia-State-University-based initiative from the academic and analysis arm of Willis Group.

Markus Stricker, director of the WECF, said in a statement that “everyone in the industry would be interested in reducing the complexity of models, making things more transparent and thus easier to understand. We ought to have learnt in the years since the financial crisis that our economic capital models need to be more dynamic and more insightful.”

He went on, explaining that looking at economic capital models in a static manner is not very helpful. Instead, he suggests insurers develop models that are simpler, yet still useful and easier to use. Stricker suggests learning from other industries that have such models in place. For example, airplane manufacturers run stress tests to find out how much pressure they can put on a wing before it breaks off, while pharmaceutical companies have a rigorous, structured process they must go through to get a medication validated.

“I think we need a similar set of standard procedures to validate the methods that financial companies use to calculate solvency related key figures,” said Stricker. Currently, standardized processes do not exist for validating economic capital models. It seems insurance companies, regulators and brokers could all benefit from a validation process that is transparent and efficient.