NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — While some argue the Christmas Day bombing downtown was an act of terrorism regardless of true motive, if it is deemed terrorism by the FBI, businesses and residents who did not pay for special terrorism insurance may be left to front the repair bills themselves.
“I think likely for the folks that are going to have to actually pay their bills to rebuild their walls, put in new windows. It’s likely going to be better if it’s determined not to be a terrorist attack, but all that will depend on the types of insurance they have and what their individual circumstances were,” Nashville lawyer and former federal prosecutor Alex Little told News 2.
In 2001, the term terrorism changed how the insurance industry operates.
“After 9/11, there was about $40 billion of insured losses that insurance companies had to pay and it caused essentially a complete collapse around insurance coverage for terrorist acts,” explained Little, “So now, insurance companies offer basic insurance or kind of commercial insurance, and they then have an extra optional policy for terrorist insurance.”
Along 2nd Avenue downtown this week, authorities have been escorting business owners and residents into their buildings to assess damage. But as for insurance, most of those claims will remain open, pending a determination of motive.
Monday, Metro Police Chief John Drake told Metro councilmembers that the FBI had ruled out terrorism.
“The FBI has deemed it not to be a terrorist act, I have to get the details of why they said it wasn’t, I believe it’s some kind of political ideology, they feel that this particular person may not have been politically motivated,” he said in a phone conference.
But the FBI quickly followed up with a statement to News 2 saying:
“We continue to assess the evidence collected and this remains an active investigation. At the appropriate time, we will make a final determination when we have been able to review the maximum amount of information.”
In order for the bombing to be deemed terrorism, the FBI will have to link the now-deceased bomber, Anthony Warner, to a political ideology with apparent intent.
The FBI did confirm to News 2 that Warner mailed materials to acquaintances days before the bombing occurred. It was in those mailings where Warner reportedly expressed his viewpoints, but investigators have not elaborated on what those were.
“When you take out two blocks of downtown and really demolish them, you know, that’s tens of millions of dollars of damage and it’s gonna take a great deal of time to rebuild. I’m sure Nashville will, but there’ll be a question as to who has to pay that bill,” said Little.
Much of 2nd Avenue is also a historic district with buildings form the 1800s. Chief Drake said the state and federal government are assessing damage.
Mayor John Cooper said he’s waiting on those assessments to determine what the city will need.
Good news is President Donald Trump signed off on Governor Bill Lee’s request for a disaster declaration Tuesday. This means residents and businesses will likely be getting some sort of financial support from the government.
FEMA said in a press release:
“The President’s action authorizes FEMA to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the designated areas.
FEMA’s Public Assistance program, (Category B) emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75% federal funding.”