U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, along with Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), reintroduced legislation which she authored seeking to compel insurance companies doing business in the United States to publicly disclose Holocaust-era insurance policies and allow survivors and heirs of victims to bring action in U.S. courts to settle Holocaust-era insurance claims. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"I am very pleased to reintroduce this important legislation with Congressman Ted Deutch to help Holocaust survivors and heirs of victims receive long overdue consideration of their insurance claims in U.S. courts.
"For far too long, insurance companies have enriched themselves by shamefully denying the claims of Holocaust survivors, and by refusing to disclose Holocaust-era insurance policies.
"The community of Holocaust survivors is shrinking rapidly, and only through immediate action can we help the survivors attain a semblance of the justice which they deserve, which has been denied them for decades.
"Congress needs to act now by passing this bi-partisan bill to help ensure that Holocaust survivors will get their rightful day in court."
NOTE: H.R. 890, the Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act of 2011, validates state laws enacted to require insurance companies to disclose the names of Holocaust-era policyholders and to allow survivors and heirs of victims to recover under their policies in U.S. courts. The measure also establishes a federal right of action to recover proceeds due under the covered Holocaust-era policies.
BACKGROUND: Following World War II, Holocaust survivors and the heirs of victims approached insurance companies with claims, but many were rejected because of the absence of death certificates and policy documents, many of which were routinely confiscated by Nazi authorities. In many of these cases, insurance company records provide the only proof of the existence of insurance policies.