Take the 2-minute tour ×
Skeptics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for scientific skepticism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I heard that the buildings were insured just before terrorist attacks. Is that true? If yes, wouldn't this be an argument for conspirationists ?

share|improve this question
5  
Can you provide a citation, where we can read it up? 'Just before' - does that mean 1 day or 2 days before? Why would it be an argument for conspiracy? How long should it have been insured before the incident, for not being suspicious? What is the normal insurance-policy for such buildings? Averages? Averages for buildings owned by this special owner? –  user unknown Sep 14 '11 at 8:20
1  
No, I just picked this from an argument with a few friends. But if you do a quick search on Google, it looks like you can find lots of sites claiming that they destroyed the building to collect the insurance :) –  Alex Sep 14 '11 at 16:43
1  
Well - that's not the right way, that I have to google what your question could mean. Did you read all the links, and do they all claim the same thing? Do we have to disprove every link, or just one? How does the existence of an insurance prove, that they destroyed ... to collect the insurance? That is a far jump from shortly before - isn't it? –  user unknown Sep 14 '11 at 19:15
2  
Are "conspirationists" kinda like "creationists"? :) –  Mike Dunlavey Sep 22 '11 at 20:26
    
The claim I hear is that the current insurance policy was changed to specifically include terror acts shortly before 9/11. –  fredsbend Jun 13 at 17:52

3 Answers 3

up vote 50 down vote accepted

It's absolutely not true, and conspiracy adherents have no case what so ever.

First of all, in the 1993 bombing, insurers paid out $510 million in that terrorist attack. That was quite a few years before the 9/11/01 event, and would blow a hole in that nut-ball idea.

As if that isn't enough reality to dissuade these "adherents", the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania states (PDF)

"Even after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 and the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, insurers in the United States did not view either international or domestic terrorism as a risk that should be explicitly considered when pricing their commercial insurance policy, principally because losses from terrorism had historically been small and, to a large degree, uncorrelated. Thus, prior to September 11, 2001, terrorism coverage in the United States was an unnamed peril covered in most standard all-risk commercial and homeowners’ policies covering damage to property and contents."

If anything, terrorism coverage is actually the norm, not an exception.

As others have said, the hub-bub was more about who got paid what by whom. Due to the way insurance policies work, in combination with real estate laws, all the leasing of the property, and switching carriers... It's the sort of stuff that makes a person's head swim.

Sorry for being so derisive in my answer, but the whole 9/11 "truther" conspiracy is one of the most insulting, if not downright stupid, ideas that seems to percolate on the internet. They continually persist no matter what debunking is provided, and only proclaim that all debunking is part of the conspiracy. As someone that served before, during, and after 9/11, and had my life personally affected by that horrible day, it just boggles the mind how disconnected from reality some people can be. They are as deluded as holocaust deniers, moon hoax proponents, or whatever patently ridiculous nuttery people glom on to...

share|improve this answer
6  
Everything I've read states that Silverstein Properties and Westfield America acquired a 99 year lease on the properties when it was offered by the NY Port Authority in 2000. They then bought an adequate amount of insurance cover. I don't even understand what the conspiracy is supposed to be. The guy had been buying and selling commercial real estate in New York City for well over 20 years by that point, including developing WTC7 in the '80s. –  jozzas Sep 14 '11 at 3:21
17  
@Alex, because they will not accept data, facts, or anything bordering on reality that does not already agree with their preconceived notions. Irrational thought is simply dangerous and downright against all logic. And in some cases, I would say that irrational thought is exactly the sort of BS that led to 9/11. It has gotten to the point that these conspiracy nutters have dragged back important discourse with their ideas that they should be rightfully mocked for their insanity. –  Larian LeQuella Sep 14 '11 at 11:56
9  
+1 for ¨the whole 9/11 "truther" conspiracy is one of the most insulting, if not downright stupid, ideas that seems to percolate on the internet.¨, LeQuella is a bad @** of rationality. –  Mark Rogers Sep 14 '11 at 15:18
5  
Wow, I sincerely appreciate the support. I was in a foul mood just writing an unnecessary debunking, and it may have bleed over into my actual reply. :) –  Larian LeQuella Sep 14 '11 at 21:37
4  
@MGZero, glad to hear it. If you have any specific questions about discrepancies in the accounts, may I suggest forums.randi.org/forumdisplay.php?f=64 I am sure that every single idea and red herring has already been addressed there. –  Larian LeQuella Sep 15 '11 at 19:39

Because the lease on the buildings had only be signed 6 weeks before the attacks, there was a legal dispute which wasn't resolved until 2007. As noted in this NY Times article:

At that time, two dozen insurers had signed binders pledging to provide $3.5 billion in insurance coverage, but had not finished the documents. An ugly dispute developed over which insurance policy was in effect at the time of the attack.

The issue was not that the buildings hadn't been insured, but which policy was in effect: the old one, or the new one which was still being finalized.

share|improve this answer

In January 2001, Silverstein, via Silverstein Properties and Westfield America, made a $3.2 billion bid for the lease to the World Trade Center. Silverstein was outbid by $50 million by Vornado Realty, with Boston Properties and Brookfield Properties also competing for the lease. However, Vornado withdrew and Silverstein's bid for the lease to the World Trade Center was accepted on July 24, 2001.[14] This was the first time in the building's 31-year history that the complex had changed management.

The lease agreement applied to One, Two, Four, and Five World Trade Center, and about 425,000 square feet (39,500 m2) of retail space. Silverstein put up $14 million of his own money to secure the deal.[15] The terms of the lease gave Silverstein, as leaseholder, the right and the obligation to rebuild the structures if destroyed.[16]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Silverstein#World_Trade_Center

Larry A. Silverstein, whose Silverstein Properties obtained a 99-year lease for the Twin Towers and other portions of the complex just weeks before the catastrophe, says he has both the right and the obligation to rebuild and he intends to do so. The money Silverstein needs, he says, will come from the proceeds of his insurance policy on the towers.

http://www.forbes.com/2003/09/11/cx_da_0911silverstein.html

So, to answer your question, yes, it seems quite clearly the case that, just six weeks prior to the attacks, the buildings were insured as part of the deal mentioned above.

As to whether it means anything, when coupled with the claim that the WTC towers were laden with asbestos and needed to be demolished and rebuilt, the conspiracy theorists present it as an argument in favour of the conspiracy theory.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.