ACE Chief Executive Officer Evan Greenberg blasted news reports about his company’s stance on Ebola risks as “sensationalized.” In response to an analyst’s question on the issue during an earnings conference call on Oct. 22, he made special effort to explain the company’s underwriting considerations concerning the virus.

Greenberg also touched on terrorism reinsurance, and said that the failure of Congress to renew federal terrorism reinsurance legislation is “shameful.”

For more information on ACE’s earnings report and a summary of market commentary by Greenberg, see related article, “Rate Hikes Barely Keeping Up With Loss Costs: ACE CEO.
The company’s call centered on reporting the drivers of ACE Limited’s 3.9 percent increase in operating income for third-quarter 2014. But the Ebola commentary came at the end of the question-and-answer period of the conference call, when Greenberg addressed a question about reports in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal and released by Reuters today. Those reports suggest that ACE is excluding coverage for Ebola-related risk from liability policies for businesses with employees traveling to West Africa.

The press accounts, Greenberg said, are an “attempt to sensationalize” what is “normal, common sense” underwriting and business practice. He denied exclusions or restrictions are being applied widely.

Regarding an exclusion for Ebola risk, he said ACE is “using it selectively, not indiscriminately or unilaterally” to address the risk.

He said ACE underwriters “start with the facts” about customers, including their types of activities, locations, travel, the safety protocols in place and others factors, and review them on a “case-by-case” basis. He said insurers have many tools to manage risk, with pricing, sublimits and exclusions being among them.

As for federal terror insurance backstop known as the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), Greenberg said is it “irresponsible of Congress to keep a question mark around the certainty of a government backstop of protection,” noting that the differences between lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives are minor.

“Both houses know, and both parties know what needs to be done. The difference between them is not great,” he said.

“The only thing they can take time for is campaigning rather than legislating,” he said. “It is shameful to me.”

Topics Underwriting