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April 15, 2021 8:51 am

Bipartisan Bill Proposed to Reclaim Holocaust-Era Unpaid Insurance Policies

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The US Capitol dome is seen in Washington, US, December 17, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Erin Scott – Legislation brought forth in the US Congress on Tuesday would allow insurance beneficiaries to recover billions in unclaimed payments from World War II.

The Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act of 2021 was re-introduced by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), along with its original co-sponsors, who include Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.), and Reps. John Garamendi (Calif.), David Kustoff (Tenn.) and Lee Zeldin (NY).

According to a statement announcing the legislation, 97 percent of the approximately 800,000 insurance policies held in 1938 were never honored “due to federal court rulings and a failure by insurance companies to adequately publish the names of recipients and pay these claims.” Following World War II, insurers also demanded to see death certificates and original policy paperwork, which was nearly impossible for many who had just survived death camps, forced relocations, torture and death marches.

The proposed legislation would “validate state laws requiring insurers to publish policy-holder information; establish a federal cause of action in US courts to ensure that Holocaust survivors and heirs have access to US courts”; and “provide a 10-year period of time for cases to be brought after the date of enactment.”

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Wasserman Schultz said “it is the victims of the Holocaust and their families who should be the heirs to unpaid policies that were set aside for times of trouble, not the insurance companies. This legislation would help restore the rights of families who were forced to endure the worst that humanity can inflict on a people.”

She added, “Preventing Holocaust survivors and their families from collecting on documented policies is truly tragic, but allowing these global insurance corporations to hold onto this unjust enrichment is an offensive re-victimization that cannot stand.”

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