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NEW YORK -- Insurers licensed in New York are subject to strict new requirements for investigating and resolving claims on policies that may have been purchased by Holocaust victims.

The insurance superintendent last week announced a timetable for insurers licensed in the state to comply with the Holocaust Victims Insurance Act of 1998.

The law, which was signed July 8 and goes into effect in 120 days, "encourages insurers to comply with an international commission to resolve these claims. If they do not, then they come under stringent reporting requirements imposed by the New York Insurance Department," said a spokesman for the governor. Uncooperative insurers may face civil fines of $1,000 per day.

Under the new timetable, insurers must file an outline by Nov. 5 of their procedures for obtaining data needed to investigate and resolve claims on property/casualty and life policies that Holocaust victims may have purchased.

Insurers also are required to investigate and resolve such claims and to provide the Insurance Department with specific claims data and other relevant information by Jan. 30, 1999, and annually thereafter for the next 10 years.

"This timetable brings us a step closer in bringing justice to Holocaust victims and their families and an even bigger step toward holding the insurance companies accountable for all overdue claims of survivors and their heirs," Insurance Superintendent Neil D. Levin said in a statement.

Under the law, insurers must file to the Insurance Department:

* The approximate number and total value of all unpaid policies issued between 1920 and 1945 to Holocaust victims.

* Any attempts the insurer has made over the years to locate beneficiaries of those policies.

* The number of claims filed by Holocaust victims and whether payment was made on each of those claims.

New York is not alone in its efforts to aid Holocaust victims and their heirs.

Nearly all the members of the National Assn. of Insurance Commissioners have signed a memorandum of intent to establish an international commission charged with resolving the issue.

In addition, members of the NAIC's International Holocaust Commission Task Force recently met with several European insurance regulators about Holocaust survivors' claims (BI, July 6).