Bush Signs Bill Shielding Insurers
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WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush said legislation he signed Tuesday to shield the insurance industry from catastrophic costs of future terror attacks is vital to the war on terror and to the nation’s economic security.
``Builders and investors can begin construction on real estate projects that have been stalled too long and we can get our hard hats back to work,″ Bush said in an East Room ceremony, his second in two days.
The president created the Homeland Security Department on Monday.
The terrorism insurance bill had been a top priority for the president since shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. From the White House and from the campaign trail, Bush argued that the inability of companies to get affordable insurance for large construction projects was costing the economy thousands of jobs.
The GOP’s success in this month’s midterm elections gave Bush leverage to insist that Congress complete the bill in the lame-duck session before adjourning for the year. The bill passed by a wide margin, with the main opposition coming from Republicans.
Under the bill, the government wouldn’t step in on any claims less than $5 million. Insurance companies would pay a deductible in 2003 equal to 7 percent of the premiums they received the previous year. The deductible would rise to 10 percent in 2004 and 15 percent in 2005. The federal government would then cover 90 percent of everything above the deductible with insurance companies paying the other 10 percent.