WNY village of 634 buys terrorism insurance

Posted at 7:14 PM, Jan 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-06 07:09:28-05

The Village of Cassadaga in Chautauqua County, population 634 according to the 2010 Census, is paying extra to have terrorism insurance added to its general liability policy.

"It is sad. You hope that you live in a tiny little small town where things like that don't happen and that you are safe - but you never know. Just look at San Bernardino and the community center," said Village Mayor Leeann Lazarony.

Lazarony pushed for the coverage after learning that businesses damaged by the Boston Marathon Bombings in 2013 were not reimbursed for their loses. "They lost tons of revenue and couldn't recoup against their insurance companies," added Lazarony.

Since the extra terrorism insurance coverage cost less than $400, the village board agreed to the purchase.

"I just want to be safe and if it is a little more, than we will pay a little more," said village resident Priscilla Newell.

The biggest concern for Cassadaga is its water supply system, which has undergone a $4 million renovation.  An act of terror against the water supply would leave over 600 people without water and could financially destroy the village with costs for repairs and liability.

Terrorism insurance will cover the village for costs if it has damage due to a certified terrorist act. The normal liability insurance will not cover acts of terror.

Village officials say there is good reason for their concerns. In 2004, Kevin Burlingame was charged with criminal tampering and criminal mischief after he virtually shut down the water supply to the village after he purposely opened a fire hydrant to nearly drain the village's main water tank of 160,000 gallons. It was reported at the time that Burlingame was mad at officials in Cassadaga Village Hall.

"It could be anybody who commits an act that has any kind of silly ideas to hurt the village or the people in the village," said the mayor.

After the World Trade Towers attacks in 2001, insurance companies began offering terrorism insurance for commercial policies.

Oftentimes in the past it was rejected, says insurance agent Randy Graham, who handles the Cassadaga account.

"Terrorism acts are becoming more widespread and varying in style and type, so it is becoming more common to accept the coverage," added Graham.

But what about personal policies like homeowners insurance?

Graham says it is important to read your policy to see what is covered but New York State is one of several states that forbids terrorism exclusions from non-commercial homeowners policies.




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