A recent bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives that expands U.S. economic sanctions targeted at Iran’s refined petroleum resources could have significant implications for the insurance and reinsurance industry. H.R. 2194, the Iran Refine Petroleum Sanctions Act (bill text and bill summary), which was passed on December 15, 2009 by a vote of 412-12, amends the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 to expand sanctions against persons and entities who, with actual knowledge, provide Iran with refined petroleum resources or engage in activities that contribute to Iran’s ability to import such resources. The expanded sanctions include underwriting, insuring, reinsuring, financing or brokering any such activity. Because U.S. trade sanctions already prohibit U.S. persons and entities, including insurers and reinsurers, from doing business with Iran, the legislation appears to be targeted at foreign individuals and entities.

The Act establishes additional sanctions prohibiting specified foreign exchange, banking, and property transactions. Among other things, the Act grants the President waiver authority, and directs the President to report to the appropriate Congressional committees every six months regarding any person or entity that has violated the Act. After passing the House, the Act was referred on December 16, 2009 to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.