House passes language on Israel insurance

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a provision that would keep travel insurers from discriminating based on travel to Israel.

The language, based on an earlier bill authored by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), is included in the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act passed Wednesday. Some insurers have refused insurance to travelers who have traveled to Israel or intend to do so, citing Israel’s appearance on State Department travel warnings.

The United Jewish Communities, the umbrella body for federations, praised the House for passing the Act and urged the Senate to keep in the Wasserman Schultz language in any version it considers.

“Until now, thousands of people have been denied life insurance simply because they travel to Israel, which is not only a lawful decision, but also one that is certainly no riskier than taking a trip to Kansas or Oregon,” said William Daroff, UJC’s Washington director. “We appreciate the fact that risk assessments are the bottom line in the insurance industry, but we insist that they be based on real numbers, not fear and misperceptions.”

The broader Act, which extends post Sept. 11 2001 legislation underwriting insurers who provide terrorist insurance, faces an uncertain future. The House version expands protections for the insurance industry; the Senate and the White House oppose such expansions.

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