Business groups throw support behind House Democrat's bill to provide pandemic risk insurance

Business groups throw support behind House Democrat's bill to provide pandemic risk insurance
© Greg Nash

Business groups are backing the Pandemic Risk Insurance Act, which would create a program to compensate businesses for losses due to pandemics.

The program, introduced by Rep. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyNew Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Nurses union warns of shortage in protective gear amid new coronavirus surge Media, entertainment groups press Congress to provide pandemic risk insurance MORE (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday, would be a system of public and private compensation for such losses resulting from future pandemics or public health emergencies. She drafted it in anticipation of a resurgence of COVID-19 and future pandemics, according to the congresswoman. 

It would be similar to the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), which created a system of compensation for certain insurance losses resulting from an act of terrorism following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

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The U.S. Travel Association and the National Retail Federation joined Maloney to introduce the bill on a press call on Tuesday. More than 24 national business organizations, including the International Franchise Association and the International Council of Shopping Centers, have also endorsed the bill. 

Maloney said she is talking to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinFive takeaways from PPP loan data On The Money: Trump administration releases PPP loan data | Congress gears up for battle over expiring unemployment benefits | McConnell opens door to direct payments in next coronavirus bill 40 Trump-connected lobbyists secured over B in coronavirus relief for clients: report MORE on Wednesday about the bill and is “confident” she will get a Republican co-sponsor, adding that she already reached out to two House Republicans.

“We will continue to assemble a broad coalition of effective stakeholders to continue to build support,” she said. “I must tell you, it’s the only bill I’ve written that people are endorsing even before it's introduced.” 

The bill would include event cancellation language as a form of business interruption insurance, which U.S. Travel Association executive vice president of public affairs and policy Tori Emerson Barnes said would help the travel industry that suffered from conferences and other events being canceled during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We believe that we have to look forward and prepare for the next crisis, including if this crisis flares up again this year,” Barnes said on the call.

Leon Buck, vice president of government relations for banking and financial services at the National Retail Federation, said, “this country needs PRIA.”

“This legislation is the cornerstone of a proactive approach in managing the risk and impact of a pandemic or epidemic in the future,” Buck said.