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Insuring Against Terrorism: The Policy Challenge

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  • Kent Smetters

Abstract

Terrorist attacks worldwide during the past several years have spurned an interest in understanding not only how governments can mitigate terrorism risk but also how governments might help finance future losses. This interest was buttressed by the seemingly failure of the private insurance market to provide coverage for terrorism losses after the attack on September 11, 2001. This paper surveys the evidence of the supposed private market failures after 9/11 and the arguments for government provision of terrorism insurance. The paper argues that mostly unfettered insurance and capital markets are capable of insuring large terrorism losses. If there is any "failure," it rests with government tax, accounting, and regulatory policies that have made it costly for insurers to hold surplus capital. Government policy has also hindered the implementation of instruments that could securitize the underlying risks. Correcting these policies would likely enable private insurers to cover both terrorism and war risks.

Suggested Citation

  • Kent Smetters, 2005. "Insuring Against Terrorism: The Policy Challenge," NBER Working Papers 11038, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11038
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David Cummins & Christopher Lewis & Richard Phillips, 1999. "Pricing Excess-of-Loss Reinsurance Contracts against Cat as trophic Loss," NBER Chapters,in: The Financing of Catastrophe Risk, pages 93-148 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. David F. Bradford & Kyle Logue, 1999. "The Influence of Income Tax Rules on Insurance Reserves," NBER Chapters,in: The Financing of Catastrophe Risk, pages 275-306 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Blomberg, S. Brock & Hess, Gregory D. & Orphanides, Athanasios, 2004. "The macroeconomic consequences of terrorism," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(5), pages 1007-1032, July.
    4. Altonji, Joseph G & Hayashi, Fumio & Kotlikoff, Laurence J, 1997. "Parental Altruism and Inter Vivos Transfers: Theory and Evidence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(6), pages 1121-1166, December.
    5. Cummins, J. David & Doherty, Neil & Lo, Anita, 2002. "Can insurers pay for the "big one"? Measuring the capacity of the insurance market to respond to catastrophic losses," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(2-3), pages 557-583, March.
    6. J. David Cummins & Neil A. Doherty & Anita Lo, 1999. "Can Insurers Pay for the "Big One"? Measuring the Capacity of an Insurance Market to Respond to Catastrophic Losses," Center for Financial Institutions Working Papers 98-11, Wharton School Center for Financial Institutions, University of Pennsylvania.
    7. Cummins, J David & Lewis, Christopher M, 2003. "Catastrophic Events, Parameter Uncertainty and the Breakdown of Implicit Long-Term Contracting: The Case of Terrorism Insurance," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 26(2-3), pages 153-178, March-May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Joseph B. Nichols & Amy Cunningham, 2009. "A model of CMBS spreads," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Jan.
    2. Howard Kunreuther & Mark Pauly, 2006. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina," NBER Working Papers 12503, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Brunette, Marielle & Couture, Stéphane, 2008. "Public compensation for windstorm damage reduces incentives for risk management investments," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(7-8), pages 491-499, October.
    4. Marielle Brunette & Stephane Couture, 2007. "Effects of Public Compensation for Disaster Damages on Private Insurance and Forest Management Decisions," Working Papers - Cahiers du LEF 2007-06, Laboratoire d'Economie Forestiere, AgroParisTech-INRA.
    5. Howard Kunreuther & Erwann Michel-Kerjan, 2004. "Policy Watch: Challenges for Terrorism Risk Insurance in the United States," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(4), pages 201-214, Fall.
    6. Howard C. Kunreuther & Erwann O. Michel-Kerjan, 2007. "Evaluating The Effectiveness of Terrorism Risk Financing Solutions," NBER Working Papers 13359, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Howard Kunreuther & Erwann Michel-Kerjan, 2004. "Dealing with Extreme Events: Challenges for Terrorism Risk Coverage in the United States," Working Papers hal-00242930, HAL.
    8. Erwann Michel-Kerjan & Burkhard Pedell, 2006. "How Does the Corporate World Cope with Mega-Terrorism? Puzzling Evidence from Terrorism Insurance Markets," Journal of Applied Corporate Finance, Morgan Stanley, vol. 18(4), pages 61-75.
    9. Howard Kunreuther & Mark Pauly, 2006. "Rules rather than discretion: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 101-116, September.
    10. Erwann Michel-Kerjan & Paul A. Raschky & Howard C. Kunreuther, 2009. "Corporate Demand for Insurance: An Empirical Analysis of the U.S. Market for Catastrophe and Non-Catastrophe Risks," Working Papers 2009-10, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    11. Marielle Brunette & Laure Cabantous & Stéphane Couture & Anne Stenger, 2008. "Insurance Demand for Disaster-type Risks and the Separation of Attitudes toward Risk and Ambiguity: an Experimental Study," Working Papers - Cahiers du LEF 2008-05, Laboratoire d'Economie Forestiere, AgroParisTech-INRA.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

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