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NEW YORK -- State insurance regulators will continue developing the framework for resolving Holocaust-era claims, despite Italy's largest insurer nullifying a $100 million lawsuit settlement.

The legal settlement involving Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A. of Italy failed because "the agreement over the harmonization of the claims process between the memorandum of understanding and the class-action lawsuit could not be reached," Generali Vice General Director Guido Pastori said in a statement last week.

He said that such harmonization was agreed upon in a letter of intent regarding the settlement between Generali and lawyers representing Holocaust survivors in a New York lawsuit.

However, the National Assn. of Insurance Commissioners always has viewed the lawsuit as being unrelated to the "memorandum of understanding" underpinning establishment of an International Commission to resolve unpaid claims to Holocaust victims, NAIC President Glenn Pomeroy said last week. "The $100 million reached in a separate agreement does not cap the liabilities of Generali to the International Commission," he said.

State insurance regulators discussed Generali's position that the $100 million be "a ceiling," rather than "a floor," at closed sessions during its fall national meeting earlier this month. The meeting also included a mini-celebration of the NAIC's involvement, with praise coming from several Jewish groups as well as Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y.

State insurance regulators plan to move forward in helping to establish the commission, in which Generali pledges to fully participate, Mr. Pastori said. However, the insurer emphasizes it is motivated only by a moral commitment. Generali says it doesn't have legal responsibility because of widespread communist expropriations of its operations in Central and Eastern Europe after World War II.

Currently, six insurers have agreed to sign the memorandum, which was developed by the NAIC and Sen. D'Amato (BI, Aug. 31).

By signing the memorandum, the European companies agree to: cooperate fully with the commission to resolve expeditiously all unpaid claims; provide full access to regulators and representatives of potential claimants to all their relevant records, books, files and archives; contribute to the establishment of a humanitarian fund; and pay for the investigation and audits by the commission.