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WASHINGTON-A Holocaust survivor and four heirs seeking unpaid insurance policy proceeds received a hearing last week from the National Assn. of Insurance Commissioners.
The Holocaust victim and the descendants of other victims recounted how several insurers, many of which still operate directly or indirectly in the United States, refused to honor life insurance and other policies, including a "dowry-type" annuity payable at age 21 and often used to help fund weddings.
U.S. resident Marta Drucker Cornell, who was born in what was then Czechoslovakia, showed regulators a copy of her physician-father's handwritten list of several policies he purchased for himself, her mother and her sister, who all perished in concentration camps.
She said the insurer-Riunione Adriatica Di Sicurta S.p.A., now a unit of Allianz A.G. Holding-refused to pay the claims immediately after the war, though it did not explain why. The insurer later gave her several reasons for not paying policy benefits, including the war itself, her father's failure to make premium payments while imprisoned by the Nazis, and the subsequent nationalization of the policies by the Communists who seized Czechoslovakia.
"Please help us get justice by exposing these financial criminals," Ms. Cornell said.
The information-gathering session was sponsored by a new working group of the NAIC, which held its quarterly meeting last week. The working group, chaired by Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn of Washington state, will report in December on the nature and scope of what state regulators can do.
"It is shocking to hear these allegations after all the Holocaust survivors have been through. Their stories demand thorough review. This is about justice," Ms. Senn said. She previously distributed questionnaires and a survey to Washington residents on this issue and is expected to share details of that process with other commissioners.
Several of the Holocaust victims are participating in a lawsuit filed in March in a federal court in New York against 16 European insurance companies (BI, April 7).
A separate effort is under way to acquire unclaimed monies Jews stored in Swiss banks for safekeeping, said Dr. Israel Miller, president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany and Austria, who also spoke at the session.
A spokesman for Allianz Leb-ensversicherungs-A.G., a life insurance unit of Allianz that was the only insurer represented at the meeting, described steps it is taking to determine if it has any liabilities, including a hot line and independent audit.
Three other insurers declined to appear for a variety of reasons.