Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is sponsoring legislation that aims to help Holocaust survivors whose insurance documents were destroyed to collect on those policies through the U.S. courts.
Survivors have long spoken out on the issue, pointing to the fact that the Nazis’ destruction campaign resulted in many of those documents being lost forever.
Republican U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida have already filed a version of the bill in the Senate. Rubio has worked on the legislation in the past with former lawmakers such as ex-Sen. Bill Nelson and retired U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
The Senate version of the bill has been joined by Democratic U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen of Nevada. Republican U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York is co-sponsoring the House version of the bill along with Wasserman Schultz.
“Victims of the Holocaust and their families should be compensated for unpaid policies that were specifically set aside for times of trouble – not to enhance the profit margins for the insurance companies,” Wasserman Schultz said.
“This legislation would provide the critically important financial support to these victims who were forced to endure the worst that humanity has inflicted on a people.”
The bill would require insurance companies to publish policyholder information and establish a federal cause of action to pursue any unpaid money through the U.S. courts system.
This issue was addressed back in the late ’90s through the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims. The commission dealt out about $475 million, but survivors say not all the money was paid.
Some European insurance companies have resisted payment to individuals lacking proper documentation. Wasserman Schultz contends that “97 percent of the approximately 800,000 policies held in 1938 have yet to be honored.”
Estimates on unpaid claims, including interest range in the billions of dollars, perhaps as high as $25 billion.
“Preventing Holocaust survivors and their families from collecting on documented policies is truly outrageous and cruel, but allowing these global insurance corporations to hold on to this unjust enrichment is an offensive re-victimization that cannot be allowed to stand,” Wasserman Schultz said.