May 22, 2001
Contact: Lucas Hamilton
Insurance companies slow to settle with Holocaust victims Six Montanans to receive payment for outstanding claims
State Auditor John Morrison expressed disappointment today in the lack of resolution of Holocaust survivors' insurance claims.
Ten Montanans have filed claims on insurance policies held during the Holocaust since the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims formed in 1998 to help resolve outstanding claims. Six of those claims are in the settlement process and four have been denied.
About 70,000 claims have been filed with the international commission, but 80 percent of them have yet to be processed. Only 9,600 claims have reached a final ruling and the commission has made settlement offers in 496 cases totaling $5.7 million.
"The process for resolving claims has been slower and less successful than many anticipated, but we must keep pressure on companies to make the victims whole and encourage Holocaust survivors and their heirs to file claims," said Morrison, Montana's insurance commissioner.
Untold numbers of pre-World War II insurance policies held by Jewish families have gone unpaid or unclaimed. Documentation often is scarce and until three years ago there was no central agency dedicated to helping beneficiaries.
Since 1998, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, in conjunction with several European insurance companies, representatives of Jewish organizations and the state of Israel, has worked to address the issue of unpaid insurance claims issued prior to and during the Holocaust. They formed the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, which is the source for information on, investigation into and payment of outstanding Holocaust era insurance claims.
Less than a year remains for individuals to file with the commission for payment of insurance claims that were affected by the Holocaust. Outstanding claims must be submitted to the international commission by Feb. 15, 2002.
"As a member of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, it is my goal to ensure that any insurance claims of Holocaust victims and their heirs are resolved fairly and expeditiously, with consideration given to the special circumstances related to the Holocaust," Morrison said.
Any victim of the Holocaust or heir of a victim, who was a policyholder or beneficiary of an unpaid insurance policy issued between 1920 and 1945, should file a claim.
"It is important that individuals come forward with claims so we can bring a measure of justice to holocaust survivors and their heirs," Morrison said.
Individuals who believe they may have unpaid insurance claims can request a claims packet in one of the following ways:
1) Contact Montana Insurance Commissioner John Morrison at 1-800-332-6148.
2) Visit the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims Web site at www.ICHEIC.org.
3) Write the International Commission at P.O. Box 1163, Wall Street Station, New York, NY 10268.
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