The Department of State seeks to ensure that all insurance policies from the Holocaust era are paid to survivors of the Holocaust and to the heirs of Nazi victims to whom they are due. When the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC) closed its doors in March 2007, its member companies committed to continuing to process all Holocaust-era claims under ICHEIC’s flexible evidentiary standards, which were lower than those that apply in American courts of law, a commitment to which they adhere today.
To date this process has helped some 48,000 claimants recover $300 million, even though most of those claimants had no documents about or records of the policies for which they filed claims; indeed, many did not even know if a policy had been issued to their forebears. The Department of State, recalling the insurers’ continuing commitment to process and pay such claims, wishes to remind Holocaust survivors and their families that the opportunity still exists for them to pursue claims for any insurance policies to which they and their heirs believe they are entitled through these existing avenues.
Anyone who believes that he or she may be the beneficiary of an unpaid Holocaust-era insurance policy should therefore file a claim with the insurance companies listed below. Working with European insurance companies, ICHEIC has prepared and published a list of over 500,000 potential policyholders. This list may provide a starting point for claimants. It can be accessed at http://www1.yadvashem.org/pheip/.
Claimants may also submit inquiries or claims regarding Holocaust-era insurance policies to the New York State Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO) of the State of New York’s Department of Financial Services. The HCPO will assist individuals with potential claims for unpaid insurance policies and, when and where possible, work with the appropriate institution or company to resolve such claims. The Department of State has confirmed with Anna B. Rubin, Director of HCPO, that she welcomes any claims and will forward them to the appropriate insurance companies. The HCPO will keep the State Department informed of the progress of the claims it is processing.
This voluntary process, with evidentiary standards sensitive to the realities of the Holocaust and with a proven record of success, is a better and more efficient way to ensure payment of Holocaust-era policies than is litigation. Such litigation is unlikely to succeed in any case because of jurisdictional issues, higher evidentiary standards in court, and otherwise unavailable legal defenses that defendants could raise in a legal proceeding.
German Insurance Association (GDV)
Generali Group (Italy)
Holocaust Foundation for Individual Insurance Claims (Netherlands)
CIVS Commission for the Compensation of Victims of Spoliation (France)
Holocaust Claims Processing Office (State of New York)