In late September, John McClary, CFO of Windway Capital Corp., Sheboygan, Wis., learned that Windway's insurance company was withdrawing a quote for aviation coverage it had submitted earlier that month. The carrier then revised its bid, dropping the coverage it was offering from $200 million to $10 million -- despite the good loss history of Windway, a holding firm with manufacturing subsidiaries in the food services and the marine industries. "They came back with an unacceptable quote," says McClary. Fortunately, McClary and his colleagues were able to find another top-tier carrier that would insure for the full $200 million; but the price was about 30% higher than Windway's previous policy. Windway isn't alone in its insurance travails. In addition to the horrific human toll of Sept. 11, the United States is suffering an economic toll, and a large part of that is a rethinking and restructuring of commercial insurance offerings and costs. While it's too early to pinpoint the final insurance payout from the attacks, it's likely to range from about $30 billion to $60 billion, reports consulting firm Tillinghast-Towers Perrin, New York. Until September, Hurricane Andrew, which struck in 1992, had been the largest insured catastrophe ever in the world at $20 billion. What's more, insurers had never priced for terrorism risks in the U.S., says Paul J. Krump, executive vice president, commercial insurance, with Chubb Group, Warren, N.J. "We now have the largest single insured loss in the history of mankind, and no one collected a premium (specifically) for it." As a result, even businesses located far from New York and Washington, D.C., can expect to feel the impact when it comes to purchasing commercial insurance. Premiums are increasing at rates of 10% to 50%; stories are circulating of rate jumps of more than 1,000%. Rate increases actually were in the works even before September. After about a decade of price decreases, premiums had begun moving back up beginning in mid-2000. About one-half of the current price increases are a result of Sept. 11, estimates Robert Hartwig, vice president with the Insurance Information Institute, a professional association in New York. The rest are due to other factors, such as rising medical costs and jury awards. Nonetheless, in addition to facing rate increases, even companies that are good risks, such as Windway, are finding it more difficult even to find coverage. That's because the huge payouts stemming from Sept. 11 have limited some insurers' and re-insurers' ability to offer coverage. (Re-insurers offer insurance to insurance companies. For instance, they would agree to pay claims over a certain limit in exchange for receiving some of the premiums paid by the insurance company's clients.) This means for those who can get insurance, the financial stability of insurance and re-insurance companies also is becoming a concern. To be sure, no one is predicting that the attacks will bankrupt U.S. insurers. However, industry experts say another attack would be much more difficult for the industry to work through. "If another huge catastrophic event happened, it could significantly impact some insurance companies," says Bill Schneider, vice president with Henderson Brothers, an independent insurance agency in Pittsburgh. What steps can managers and CFOs take to make sure that their firms can obtain the insurance coverage they need, at a price that makes sense?