Thursday, April 25, 2013

Terrorism Insurance?

We've all seen the horrific pictures of the Forum restaurant and the Lenox hotel, as well as the shattered glass from other businesses along the busy thoroughfare that was the site of the attack. Aside from the incredible human toll, though, there's a business one, too:

"Companies could lose insurance payouts for property, lost income and other damage if the bombings are officially declared an act of terrorism by key U.S. officials" [emphasis added]

That last bit is important, and we'll get to it in a moment. First, though, it's important to know that acts of terror are typically excluded from commercial (business) insurance policies, but is also generally available as a rider (for an additional premium). The business owner decides which coverages are important, and which ones are worth an extra premium, knowing that the added cost affects his bottom line now, while a potential exposure may or may not affect it later.

Choice about coverages is nice, isn't it? It's times like this that I envy my P&C colleagues.

In the event, claims arising from the attacks may or may not be covered, depending on whether or not the owners purchased that terrorism rider. If they didn't, the claims may still be paid if DHS (or equivalent) declines to officially categorize the incident as terror-related. We may never know, but businesses still shuttered a year from now might be a clue.

By the way, I also wondered about life insurance claims in this instance. Back in the day, there were often exclusions for acts of war and the like, and it occurred to me that terror might be a problem for life insurance policy holders, as well. I checked with our primary carrier, and was told

"Some Accidental Death riders include a war exclusion, which would not pay the ADB In the event of “war, declared or undeclared, or any act of war”. Some very old life policies may have a similar exclusion, but typically this is not included as part of [modern policies]. So, generally, the answer is that these types of claims would be paid."
Good to know.

[Hat Tip: FoIB Holly R]
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