Representative Steve Stivers Anticipates a Pandemic Risk Insurance Bill by Early 2021

Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) interview - image

Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) discussed prospects for developing and enacting a federal pandemic risk-business continuity insurance program in an interview with Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer during the organization’s Fall Meeting this week.  (Video of the interview)

  • Rep. Stivers is the Ranking Member on the House Committee on Financial Services’ Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance and played a key role in last year’s seven-year extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA).
  • DeBoer noted that the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the lack of insurance availability for business continuity coverage for catastrophic pandemic events. Most business interruption insurance policies are denying pandemic risk-related claims, raising urgent concerns among policyholders – including owners of real estate, the event industry and professional sporting leagues.
  • Rep. Stivers emphasized the problem is growing worse and stated, “We’ve seen business interruption insurance not being willing to cover any pandemics.  I think you’re going to start to see lenders … requiring some type of pandemic coverage in their loan covenants in the coming years.”
  • While a number of legislative proposals have been introduced – including the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act of 2020 (H.R. 6983) – many are based on TRIA, which presents stark differences compared to pandemic risk.  Rep. Stivers notes in the interview how the scale and size of a terrorism attack and a pandemic are fundamentally different.  He also notes how a mandatory make-available clause that is part of the TRIA legislation is not currently part of a pandemic risk insurance bill.

Rep Steve Stivers remote interview with RER

  • Rep. Stivers (above) also said he expects a modified legislative approach to H.R. 6983 may be successful: “I believe in the first six months of next year we should have something (legislation) out of the House and pending in the Senate with the Senate starting to take action.”
  • Both DeBoer and Stivers agreed that a federal business continuity insurance program should be put into place before there is a recurrence of pandemic or government-ordered shutdown in response to a different natural catastrophe.
  • The Roundtable is working with industry partners such as Nareit and other stakeholders through the newly formed Business Continuity Coalition (BCC) to develop with policymakers an effective federal insurance program that provides the economy with the coverage it needs to provide business continuity coverage in the face of pandemic risk.  .  (Video of DeBoer’s discussion with Rep. Stivers)
  • DeBoer also asked the Congressman, as a member of the House Financial Services Committee, about the prospects for a pandemic relief bill.  Rep. Stivers responded, “I believe there will be a pandemic relief bill in the lame-duck session. The most important things to me are number one, liability protection for businesses that open.  Number 2 – some help for our state and local governments that have seen a hit in their revenues.  I’d like to see us add money for infrastructure … and for people who continue to struggle.”
  • He continued, “Instead of (increasing) unemployment insurance … I would rather see us do a temporary rental assistance program and I think it should apply to commercial as well as residential.  There’s already an eviction moratorium, but if you can’t evict somebody but you don’t get help for your rent, then you’re picking tenants over landlords and I’d like to see us fix that problem and do a temporary rental assistance program.”

Pressure for policymakers to act on another round of pandemic aid is growing since negotiations between Democrats and Republicans stalled in August.  (See story below on Coronavirus Response)

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