Calls for pandemic insurance program similar to 9/11 terrorism coverage

The National Retail Federation is calling on US Congress to pass legislation establishing a federal program that would help businesses obtain insurance coverage for pandemics modeled on a program for terrorism insurance established following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The new measure would require that insurers offer policies that cover pandemics but would create a federal backstop program that would reimburse when claims exceed $250 billion nationwide.

Covered businesses would have to demonstrate that they had suffered significant business interruption with a sharp decline in revenue.

Coverage would also be required for large gatherings, ranging from sporting events to concerts to conventions, that are canceled.

The program would cover only future pandemics, not claims from the current pandemic, and would be capped at $500 billion.

“When businesses couldn’t obtain coverage for acts of terrorism after 9/11, Congress stepped in,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said.

“It’s time for Washington to do the same for pandemics. Retailers and other businesses across the country have seen unprecedented losses related to COVID-19 that weren’t covered under most current insurance policies and won’t be covered if there’s a second wave of the virus next winter.

“At this point it’s virtually impossible to obtain pandemic coverage for the future, but a federally insured pandemic risk insurance program would provide businesses of all sizes the certainty they need and help rebuild confidence.”

“A federal program could also provide a mechanism for immediate and predictable economic recovery should the nation face another pandemic – even one of lesser magnitude – in the future,” French added.

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