Holocaust Era Insurance Claims Commission (ICHEIC) To Close
HISTORY OF I.C.H.E.I.C
In September of 1997, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) established a Holocaust Insurance Issues Working Group to examine the issue and to make a recommendation as to the appropriate role for the NAIC and state insurance departments. The Working Group conducted hearings throughout the country and also looked at the progress of several state insurance departments, including New York and California, which were encouraging potential claimants to provide information that might help facilitate claims payments and were storing this information in databases.
Early in 1998, the New York Insurance Department, the California Department, four European insurance companies, as well as the World Jewish Restitution Organization, the World Jewish Congress and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, entered into a Memorandum of Intent that set out six criteria for the resolution of these unpaid insurance claims as follows: (1) establishment of a process to investigate the insurance claims of Holocaust survivors; (2) consultation with European government officials and the insurance industry about this problem; (3) establishment of an international commission comprised of governmental authorities, insurers and world Jewish organizations; (4) establishment of a just mechanism for resolution of unpaid claims; (5) exemption from state regulatory actions and legislation for insurers participating in the process and efforts to resolve all litigation against these insurers; and (6) establishment of a fund to provide humanitarian relief to Holocaust survivors.
Immediately following, the NAIC established the International Holocaust Commission Task Force (NAIC Task Force) to succeed the NAIC Working Group. The goal of the NAIC Task Force was to work with European insurance regulators, European insurers and Holocaust survivors to establish the international commission contemplated in the Memorandum of Intent to facilitate claims payments to Holocaust victims, survivors and their heirs.
The New York Insurance Department assumed a leadership position in negotiations among the NAIC Task Force, the European insurance companies and the Jewish groups throughout the summer of 1998 and, with the NAIC Task Force, also met with European insurance regulators from France, Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland in an effort to enlist their support for the international commission. These negotiations resulted in the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding by various European insurance companies and the members of the NAIC Task Force. The Memorandum of Understanding was also signed by the World Jewish Restitution Organization, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and 49 insurance commissioners of the United States.
The Memorandum of Understanding established ICHEIC to investigate and resolve unpaid insurance claims of Holocaust victims, survivors and their heirs. As one of the original members of ICHEIC, The New York Insurance Department, since inception and to the present, has been integral to New York’s and the NAIC’s participation in developing ICHEIC’s claim investigation and resolution process.
As of the March 31, 2004 filing deadline, ICHEIC received more than 90,000 claims. Companies and partner agencies extended over 14,000 offers totaling over $238 million, of which nearly $100 million was issued to claimants who did not name an insurance company and whose awards were the result of ICHEIC’s extensive research and matching efforts. Through ICHEIC’s humanitarian claims processes more than $30.5 million was distributed for claims on policies written by companies nationalized or liquidated after World War II and for which no present-day successor could be identified. An additional $31.2 million was also distributed on eligible undocumented claims that contained a high level of anecdotal information regarding insurance but could not be matched against company records. ICHEIC’s humanitarian claims processes enabled more than 34,000 Holocaust victims or their heirs, who would not have otherwise been able to submit claims, to receive compensation.