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Holocaust Restitution: Insurers Reject Most Holocaust Claims

(May 9, 2000)

According to the international insurance claims settlement commission, European insurers are rejecting seventy-five percent of the claims submitted on behalf of Holocaust victims trying to recover policies purchased between 1930 and 1945. The insurance companies have not fully disclosed all the policies, therefore, many of the survivors and heirs cannot file claims because of lack of knowledge of the purchase of policies by their relatives. Of the 909 claims that have been submitted to the insurance companies, only 124 have been settled. Even claims that are well documented are being turned down. Some claims have been rejected due to "negative" evidence, meaning that there is an absence of any reference to a wartime policy. Unfortunately, many of the relevant documents were destroyed by the Nazis.

To rectify some of these injustices the state of California is trying to pass a law to enforce full disclosure by the European insurance companies (those doing business in California) participating in the commission. There has been opposition to the bill because some believe California does not have jurisdiction over transactions that took place more than 50 years ago and outside the state of California. Since participation by these companies in the commission is voluntary, no steps have been taken to revoke current licenses or to force the companies to pay the insurance claims.

A separate humanitarian fund administered by the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims should be settling the claims of those who have been rejected by the insurance companies. However, the specifics on how much money the insurance companies will provide for the fund and the qualifications for receiving payment have not yet been determined.

Source: Los Angeles Times, (May 9, 2000)