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Evaluating The Effectiveness of Terrorism Risk Financing Solutions

Author

Listed:
  • Howard C. Kunreuther
  • Erwann O. Michel-Kerjan

Abstract

The 9/11 attacks in the United States, as well as other attacks in different parts of the world, raise important questions related to the economic impact of terrorism. What are the most effective ways for a country to recover from these economic losses? Who should pay for the costs of future large-scale attacks? To address these two questions, we propose five principles to evaluate alternative programs. We first discuss how a federal insurance program with mandatory coverage and a laissez faire free-market approach for providing private insurance will fare relative to these principles. We conclude that neither solution is likely to be feasible here in the United States given the millions of firms at risk and the current structure of insurance regulation. We then evaluate how well the U.S. Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), a public-private program to cover commercial enterprises against foreign terrorism on U.S. soil, meets the five principles. In particular, we show that TRIA has had a positive effect on availability of terrorism coverage and also has significantly contributed to reducing insurance premiums. TRIA is scheduled to terminate at the end of the year, but pending legislation would extend the program for fifteen years after December 31 (HR. 2761). In this paper, we show that such a long-term extension might have important impacts on the market. This could increase the take-up rate, as prices might be even lower than they are today. We show also, however, that if TRIA were extended for a long period of time in its current form, some insurers could "game" the program by collecting ex ante a large amount of premiums for terrorism insurance, while being financially responsible for only a small portion of the claims ex post. The general taxpayer and the general commercial policyholder (whether or not covered against terrorism) would absorb the residual insured losses. This raises major equity issues inherent in the design of the program.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13359
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Brown, Jeffrey R. & Cummins, J. David & Lewis, Christopher M. & Wei, Ran, 2004. "An empirical analysis of the economic impact of federal terrorism reinsurance," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(5), pages 861-898, July.
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    5. Todd Sandler, 2003. "Collective Action and Transnational Terrorism," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(6), pages 779-802, June.
    6. Neil A. Doherty & Harris Schlesinger, 1990. "Rational Insurance Purchasing: Consideration of Contract Nonperformance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 243-253.
    7. Michel-Kerjan Erwann & de Marcellis-Warin Nathalie, 2006. "Public-Private Programs for Covering Extreme Events: The Impact of Information Distribution on Risk-Sharing," Asia-Pacific Journal of Risk and Insurance, De Gruyter, vol. 1(2), pages 1-30, February.
    8. Lapan, Harvey E & Sandler, Todd, 1988. "To Bargain or Not to Bargain: That Is the Question," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 16-21, May.
    9. Abadie, Alberto & Dermisi, Sofia, 2008. "Is terrorism eroding agglomeration economies in Central Business Districts? Lessons from the office real estate market in downtown Chicago," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 451-463, September.
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    11. 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.
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    13. 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.
    14. J. David Cummins, 2006. "Should the government provide insurance for catastrophes?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 337-380.
    15. Kunreuther, Howard & Heal, Geoffrey, 2003. "Interdependent Security," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 26(2-3), pages 231-249, March-May.
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    19. Erwann Michel-Kerjan & Burkhard Pedell, 2005. "Terrorism Risk Coverage in the Post-9/11 Era: A Comparison of New Public–Private Partnerships in France, Germany and the U.S.*," The Geneva Papers on Risk and Insurance - Issues and Practice, Palgrave Macmillan;The Geneva Association, vol. 30(1), pages 144-170, January.
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    21. Olivier Mahul & Brian D. Wright, 2004. "Implications of Incomplete Performance for Optimal Insurance," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 71(284), pages 661-670, November.
    22. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. W. Viscusi, 2009. "Valuing risks of death from terrorism and natural disasters," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 191-213, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War

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