Weiss Ratings


Terrorist Attack On World Trade Center Likely to Have
Modest Impact on Property Insurers
Workers' Compensation and Business Interruption Insurance Face More Severe Blow

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla., September 12, 2001 - Although yesterday's terrorist attack on the World Trade Center building is a terribly tragic event, the impact on the property insurance industry is likely to be modest according to a preliminary analysis by Weiss Ratings, Inc., the nation's only provider of independent insurance company ratings and analyses.[1] On the other hand, insurers with workers' compensation or business interruption exposure are at the greatest risk since there is no limit to the amount of claims they might incur.

"In terms of property damage, this is roughly equivalent to the impact of a major hurricane. It is a blow to property insurers, but it is something they are generally prepared to absorb so we are unlikely to see a rash of failures," commented Martin D. Weiss, Ph.D., chairman of Weiss Ratings. "In terms of emotional damage and loss of life, however, the impact is obviously much more severe than a hurricane or any other catastrophe we could have imagined."

With property damage certainly running into the billions of dollars, Weiss put the World Trade Center damage into perspective by noting that Tropical Storm Allison caused $2.5 billion in damage in 2001 without directly causing a single insurance company failure. Conversely, Hurricane Andrew in 1992 resulted in $26.5 billion in property damage, resulting in several insurance companies pulling out of that market due to fear of another major disaster.

Weiss noted that industry-wide, insurers collected $13 billion in premiums in 2000 for commercial multiple peril (non-liability) insurance with $1 billion in premiums written in the state of New York. Many property and casualty insurance policies include standard language that excludes damage caused by war or acts of war. In general, standard policies do not exclude acts of terrorism. It is unclear at this time under which category yesterday's actions would fall.

"We'll probably see an increase in premium rates and a decrease in coverage availability, especially for those properties that might be considered terrorist targets, but this will not cripple the property insurance industry," added Dr. Weiss. "More significantly, the insurance industry should make every possible effort to help those affected recover from this national tragedy and ease the general public's fears that this terrorist act could result in related coverage problems by focusing on prompt, compassionate service."

[1] Weiss Ratings has no specific data to support commentary on insurance for the Pentagon or coverage on commercial aircraft.

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