Terror is more hype than risk

Terrorism is not a threat. Or at least 85 percent of Hartford Financial Services Group’s largest customers believe so. Under a bill signed into law in November by President George W. Bush, insurance companies are required to offer terrorism insurance separate from, and in addition to, normal policies. However, the vast majority of businesses are rejecting the coverage. If businesses do not believe they are at risk for a terrorist attack, why does the Bush administration create the aura that individual citizens are?

There are high-profile venues that still feel insecure. In June the Metrodome’s annual insurance premiums doubled due to the addition of terrorism insurance as a separate policy. Insurance for the Buffalo Bills’ stadium jumped six-fold. And Miller Park in Milwaukee, home of this year’s All-Star game, saw its premiums rise from $225,000 to $2.25 million – a ten-fold increase. However, these are the exceptions rather than the rule. A risk management firm found its clients’ insurance would increase, on average, 8 percent to 9 percent. Yet, businesses still decline the additional coverage. Meanwhile, the frenzied paranoia of individual Americans is being encouraged through high-level suggestions to buy duct tape and plastic wrap as a last defense against the foreboding threat.

Businesses declining these policies suggest that the paranoia over U.S. endangerment is based on emotion rather than fact. Businesses have a strong self-interest to protect their investments and guard against future harm. By “voting with their feet,” businesses are saying that an imminent terrorist threat to their property is more hype than reality. This begs the question: Who is being served by keeping the people in an unnecessary state of fear, and why is it being done?

Cynics would suggest it is to ferment an atmosphere pliant to the needs of the Bush administration. Bush supporters would suggest it is because the nature of information does not allow for specific warnings. Regardless of which alternative, it is becoming increasingly clear the risk is exaggerated, and our nation would do well to rein in its paranoia to rational levels.