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While the California Holocause Insurance Settlement Alliance (CHISA) has not resorted to the word fraud, the allegations in this ongoing saga are synonomous.
Between the end of WW1 and the beginning of WW2, life insurance policies were very common throughout Europe. As is the case today, many household heads would dole out money on a weekly or monthly basis, paying for a policy that would pay a lump sum death benefit to the policyholder’s survivors if he should die.
When Hitler assumed power and began his ethnic cleansing campaign, exterminating millions of European Jews and other minorities, these policies somehow fell through the cracks. As people turned their heads to what was happening at the Hitler death camps, major insurance companies later turned their own heads to claims presented by survivors of those killed during the Holocaust.
And nothing happened to change that for almost fifty years. Companies around the world ignored those who submitted claims for Holocaust deaths. Some of the tactics included demands for death certificates and other paperwork all of which, under the circumstances of such a massive extermination were impossible to produce.
And then came CHISA. Claim-making heirs, believing that power increased with numbers, banded together and began working as a group. One of their major acheivements was an order from the California Department of Insurance which demanded that any company currently doing business in the state of California (and accused by CHISA of having unpaid war-era life claims) would cooperate and turn over all information related to European life insurance policies issued between 1920 and 1945. Companies that failed to do so would face suspension of their authority to write business in the state. The entire matter was covered in the California Holocaust Victim Insurance Relief Act (HVIR) of 1999 (signed into law by the California Governor on October 8, 1999). HVIR called for compliance on or before April 7, 2000.
Three Dutch insurance companies, Aegon, ING and Fortis, banded together to overcome Dutch confidentiality laws and provide the requested lists. They also colelctively established a multi-million dollar fund to pay off any legitimate claims. Two other groups of insurance companies, however, has now filed lawsuits to block the implementation of HVIR. The suits charge that the HVIR Act’s regulations infringe the federal government’s foreign affairs powers and violate the forgign and due process clauses of the Constitution of the United States. One of the groups is the American Insurance Association (AIA) and company participants include Allianz, Generali, Munich Re and Zurich. The other group is Gerling Global Re-Insurance Corporation of America.
Now the estimated 20,000 survivors or heirs who believe they are rightfully owed life insurance benefits are again waiting.
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