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Letter: Renew terrorism risk insurance

The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. on

The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 19, 2011. Credit: AP

The world is still a dangerous place, which makes the recent inaction of Congress in regard to the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act so surprising. Jan. 1 dawned without a program to provide a federal backstop to protect against catastrophic attacks on our nation's critical infrastructure and iconic buildings.

The terrorism insurance act was passed in 2002 and reauthorized several times. It's designed to make terrorism insurance available and affordable. Several major developers have stated that if it were not for this program, some of New York City's buildings at Ground Zero might not have been built.

One senator has objected and said that the program should be redesigned to shift some of the risk from the American taxpayer to the insurance industry. Though normally a valid point, this does not apply to terrorist acts because of the nationwide impact and unforeseeable nature of an attack.

Hopefully Congress will enact an extension and expand the program to cover cyber-attacks. Many industries are recognizing the risk from cyber-attacks, but finding insurance is hard, particularly in energy, health care and transportation. If Uncle Sam were to provide a federal backstop, it might incentivize the private sector to work more closely with these critical industries and drive cyber awareness and responsibility in return for affordable insurance.

Michael Balboni, East Williston

Editor's note: The writer, a former state senator, is managing partner for RedLand Strategies, a management consulting agency specializing in homeland security.