Friday, February 5, 2010

US lawmakers push insurers on Holocaust claims

US lawmakers unveiled legislation Thursday aimed at helping Holocaust survivors or heirs of Nazi victims sue for insurance claims, estimated to run in the hundreds of billions of dollars, in US courts.

Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's bill seeks to compel insurance companies, who often have the sole proof of the existence of Holocaust-era policies, to disclose the names of the insured.

"For too long the insurance companies have had the upper hand, denying Holocaust survivors and their families their rights," said Ros-Lehtinen, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Nazi regime in Germany did not issue death certificates to prisoners brought to the death camps, and police documents or personal records were often confiscated and destroyed.

The bill would validate state laws on the issue, removing potential federal roadblocks to lawsuits, and subjecting insurers who refuse to whatever punishment individual states decide.

"Insurance companies must disclose the names of policyholders to ensure that just compensation is received. They must not be allowed to hide behind a veil of secrecy any longer," said Ros-Lehtinen.(AFP)

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