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NEW YORK CITY-Years of insurance battles following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks are over and what New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer calls the last major barrier to rebuilding Downtown has been removed. The debate originally hinged on World Trade Center master-lease holder Larry Silverstein’s claim that the attacks represented two separate incidents, while a syndicate of insurers held to the supposition that the attacks were one event. With this week’s $2-billion settlement, the dispute has been settled.

According to a statement from Spitzer’s office, to date, the insurance companies have paid nearly half of the total $4.7 billion the courts allowed Silverstein. So the settlement approaches the full court-outlined amount. Under the terms of the settlement, the amount each of the seven named insurers will pay will remain private. Insurers included in the agreement are Travelers Cos., Zurich American Insurance Co. and Swiss Reinsurance Co.

Late last year Silverstein and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey reached an agreement to facilitate the rebuilding of the complex. As part of that agreement, those two players agreed to a split of the remaining insurance proceeds. According to the governor’s statement, the split was 54/44, with the bulk going to Silverstein.

“It is essential that the rebuilding at the World Trade Center site proceed as quickly as possible,” said Spitzer. “The unsettled insurance claims were the last major barrier to rebuilding and have been bitterly and intensely contested for almost six years. The settlement is the result of an extensive collaborative effort by many and it ensures that the Port Authority and Silverstein Properties will have the financial resources to meet their obligations and rebuild at the World Trade Center site in a way that will make all New Yorkers proud and fuel the revitalization of Lower Manhattan.”

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