Terrorism insurance set to expire for Strip properties

LAS VEGAS -- Federal dollars that insure Las Vegas in the event of a terrorist attack could soon run out. Both Nevada U.S. senators say they're working to renew federal terrorism insurance.

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act allows the federal government to help pay for any damage caused to businesses after a terrorist attack. It is set to expire Dec. 31, 2014.

Lawmakers say this could impact the Strip's ability to develop new Las Vegas resorts because their insurance premiums would skyrocket. They say developers won't want to build without the backing of federal dollars.

Every single casino on the Las Vegas Strip has the coverage and so does the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and even Cashman Center.

"The terrorism threat is not just an East Coast issue," said Senator Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican. 

The act, or TRIA, allows the federal government to pay up to $100 billion toward repairing damage following a terrorist attack. That money is to supplement business' private insurance policies.

"These threats are real. You can imagine the impact it would have on a state like Nevada if an event were to occur," Heller said.

Lawmakers say, because no one had ever anticipated an attack as large as 9-11, no private insurer was prepared to pay. People at the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce says that's where TRIA comes in.

"You know, if we don't see the bill pass, what you can anticipate is a halt in the markets, construction, expansion, there would be a lot of costs to businesses, existing businesses, trying to meet those insurance payments," said Paul J. Moradkhan, the director of government affairs.

The Metro Chamber of Commerce has a 4-page list of businesses that support TRIA. The act was originally set to expire in Dec. 2005, but was extended to 2007, and extended again to Dec. 31, 2014. 

Chamber leaders say some lawmakers aren't entirely convinced TRIA is necessary.

"The naysayers are saying, is it the role of the federal government to engage in the insurance sector?" Moradkhan said.

There is no special pot of money set aside for terrorism insurance, so you essentially pay nothing unless an attack happens. In the meantime, private terrorism insurance rates continue to climb. 

Lawmakers have until the end of the year to reauthorize federal terrorism insurance. 8 News NOW called both the developers for Resorts World Las Vegas and those revamping the old Frontier site to see how TRIA affected their decision to come to Las Vegas, but both were unavailable for on-camera interviews.


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