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TMCNet:  Best's Special Report: Insurers Adjust to Changing Terrorism Risk Landscape

[April 13, 2018]

Best's Special Report: Insurers Adjust to Changing Terrorism Risk Landscape

Given the dramatic shift in the landscape of terrorism risk, insurers with significant terrorism exposures already are contemplating the expiration of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (TRIPRA) at year-end 2020. A new A.M. Best special report states that insurers soon will need to consider the potential termination of the federal backstop for their longer-term policies, and prepare their risk management practices.

The Best's Special Report, "Insurers Adjust to Changing Terrorism Risk Landscape," states that the lack of permanency and the decline in protection at each TRIPRA renewal remains a concern for many insurers. Insurers with large balance sheets typically have higher risk appetites for trophy buildings in so-called Tier 1 cities (e.g., New York, Los Angeles). These large insurers would consider a government backstop an important component of their risk management. A.M. Best data shows that small-sized and some medium-sized insurers are unlikely to amass sufficient gross losses to satisfy the $160 million program trigger in 2018 ($200 billion in 2020). Given their smaller size and less room for error or reduced government involvement and support, establishing a conservative risk appetite backed by reinsurance and concentration limits becomes critical for these insurers.

These industry concerns come at a time when the scope of terrorism is changing. The focus of more-recent terror attacks has shifted from inflicting property damages and causing mass casualties to primarily causing loss of human life. Cyber threats continue to evolve, and combined with the ever-present potential for nuclear, biological, chemical and radiation attacks, insurers need to be prepared.

Although TRIPRA could help minimize the loss impact on an insurer's capitalization, A.M. Best believes over-reliance on it is not a substitute for sound risk management. A.M. Best's assessment of enterprise risk management (ERM) emphasizes stress-testing for any insurer with a significant exposure to terrorism risk to ensure that resources are adequate in the event of a terrorist attack. When assessing an insurer's exposure to terrorism risk, A.M. Best uses its ERM evaluation, stress tests and their relationship to capital, and expects insurers to use a similar process along with their analytical and experience-driven judgment to manage terrorism risk. Those companies that rely heavily on TRIPRA should be prepared to present detailed plans to A.M. Best if the backstop is not renewed.

To access the full copy of this special report, please visit

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