The Spitzer administration announced the settlement of all insurance claims at ground zero yesterday, ensuring that $4.55 billion will be available for rebuilding the World Trade Center site.
The agreement, which the insurers described as the largest single insurance settlement ever undertaken by the industry, ended a protracted legal battle with insurers over payouts related to the terrorist attack.
New York State and Port Authority officials said yesterday that the deal removed any uncertainty over how much money would be available for rebuilding and would enable them to obtain private financing for the $9 billion project.
Officials had worried that the insurance dispute might drag on for years, eating up millions of dollars in lawyers’ fees and potentially delaying reconstruction. The settlement is the culmination of a two-month campaign by the state insurance superintendent, Eric R. Dinallo, and involved meetings in Geneva, Paris and Delaware.
The agreement was reached with seven of the two dozen insurers for the trade center who had not already settled — Allianz Global Risks, Travelers Companies, Zurich American, Swiss Re, Employers Insurance, Industrial Risk Insurers and Royal Indemnity. They agreed to pay a total of $2 billion. The other insurers had already made good on their claims and paid about $2.55 billion.
In recent weeks, Gov. Eliot Spitzer joined the negotiations with the seven companies, which lasted until the early morning yesterday.
“The unsettled insurance claims were the last major barrier to rebuilding and have been bitterly and intensely contested for almost six years,” Governor Spitzer said in an interview. “This means we can now fund construction, access the financial markets and move on to what should be our primary focus: rebuilding.”