10 Costliest Terrorist Attacks By Insured Property Losses

Terrorism insurance is a thing, and in these troubling times of Ukrainian unrest, ISIS, and open borders, attacks remain something for which we have to be vigilant. You may not know this but there is a program called the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (TRIPRA) that expires at the end of the year.

The act became a federal law when President George W. Bush signed it on November 26, 2002, as a response to 9/11. It created a federal “backstop” for insurance claims related to acts of terrorism.

Dr. Robert Hartwig, CPCU, economist and president of the I.I.I. (Insurance Information Institute), recently spoke out in favor of renewing the law in a press release.

“The 13-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack—coming just ahead of TRIPRA’s looming December 31 expiration date—is a reminder of the urgent need for Congress to swiftly reauthorize this vital Act, which has proven itself to be a critical component of the country’s national economic security infrastructure,” explained Hartwig. “Moreover, recent and explicit threats to American interests around the world from new terrorist organizations, including Islamic State (ISIS), demonstrate that the need for the program is greater than at any time in the past several years.”

Hartwig noted that TRIPRA was “sound fiscal and economic policy.”

“TRIPRA costs taxpayers virtually nothing, yet it continues to provide tangible benefits to the U.S. economy in the form of terrorism insurance market stability, affordability and availability. The availability and pricing of terrorism insurance is currently tightening given uncertainty over reauthorization, and because of the unique nature of terrorism risk and the possibility for virtually unlimited losses, private insurance markets do not have the capacity to cover terrorism losses to the extent possible under TRIPRA.”


Just how steep can terrorism losses be?

Part of the problem is that no one knows. However, we can look to the 10 Costliest Terror Attacks of all time by insured property losses to get some idea. Surprisingly, while 9/11 is number one, many costly terror attacks on the list were not altogether deadly. Essentially, there is 9/11 and everything else. In fact, the No. 2 on I.I.I.’s list resulted in one fatality compared to the 2,982 reported dead on America’s darkest day.


Here’s the full breakdown:

10. September 12, 1970: In the country of Jordan at Zerqa, Dawson’s Field, there was a hijacked Swissair DC-8, TWA Boeing 707, BOAC VC-10 terminated on the ground via dynamite resulting in zero fatalities but $167 million in property loss.

9. April 19, 1995: The Oklahoma City Bombing. This tragedy did kill 166, and it also resulted in $192 million in property damage.

8. June 23, 1985: In the Irish Sea, a bomb exploded on board of an Air India Boeing 747, killing 329 and resulting in $212 million worth of claims.

7. February 9, 1996: In London, a bomb set off by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded in South Key Docklands doing $341 million in damage and killing two.

6. July 24, 2001: In Colombo, Sri Lanka, rebels destroyed three airliners, eight military aircraft, and heavily damaged three civilian aircraft. The attack resulted in 20 deaths and $525 million in damage.

5. February 26, 1993: A bomb exploded in the garage of the World Trade Center resulting in six deaths and $822 million worth of property destruction.

4. April 10, 1992: A bomb exploded in London’s financial district, resulting in three deaths and $883 million of damage.

3. June 15, 1996: In Manchester, the IRA set off a car bomb near a shopping mall. While there were zero fatalities, the damage did register at $980 million.

2. April 24, 1993: Another London bombing, this time it exploded near the NatWest tower in the financial district. As a result there were $1.193 billion in damages and one fatality.

1. September 11, 2001: Hijacked airliners crash into the World Trade Center and Pentagon, resulting in 2,982 deaths and $24.721 billion in damage.

For the full top 20, check out the details at the Insurance Information Institute website.


In Summary

While no other terrorist attack comes close to 9/11 in both loss of life and loss of property, terrorism remains a huge threat 13 years later, and it certainly has a destructive track record that leaves a real impact on the lives and businesses that it touches. Before writing it off as a non-threat, check with your insurance agent to see what options are available to you.

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