Victims of the Sept. 11 (search) attacks received $38.1 billion in compensation, with insurance companies picking up the largest portion of the tab, according to a study released Monday.

The report by Rand Institute for Social Justice (search) found that civilians killed or injured have received an average of $3.1 million per person from the government, charities and insurance companies, or $8.7 billion.

Emergency personnel killed or injured were given a total of about $1.9 billion. First responders received an average of $1.1 million more than civilians with similar economic losses, the study found. Most of the extra money came from charities.

Insurers paid 51 percent of the overall total, or about $19.6 billion. The government distributed $15.8 billion, or 42 percent, and charities paid $2.7 billion, or 7 percent.

The majority of the money went to New York City businesses, which received $23.3 billion, according to Rand. Three out of every four dollars that went to businesses came from insurance companies.

In such a large-scale disaster, even the secondary assistance added up to billions of dollars in compensation. About $3.5 billion was paid to displaced residents, workers who lost their jobs, and those who suffered emotional problems or were exposed to environmental dangers.

Lloyd Dixon, who co-authored the study, said the results raise questions about the future role of insurance companies in the response to any attack.

"It points out the hole that would be created if we don't have terrorism insurance," Dixon said. "What if the insurers weren't there the next time?"

A federal guarantee protecting companies against major financial losses in the event of another attack is set to expire at the end of 2005, and some in Congress are pressing for an extension now to keep premiums down.

Dixon also said that one of the defining features of the response to the Sept. 11 attacks is the relative lack of litigation, which has yet to account for a significant portion of the compensation.

The report notes that some lawsuits are pending from individuals and companies, the outcomes of which will change final compensation figures.

One such case is the ongoing court battle between World Trade Center leaseholder Larry Silverstein (search) and his insurers.

Researchers did not include the billions in federal dollars allotted for rebuilding lower Manhattan's infrastructure because their study focused on payments made to people or companies.