U.S. Government Pushed to Support Life Insurance Benefits for Families of Holocaust Victims

Anytime a legitimate claim for death benefits under a life insurance policy is denied, the result is tragic for the beneficiaries who might need the benefits to keep their family home, pay for their children’s college education and maintain their family legacy.  However, a particularly tragic example of a large group of people who had their life insurance claims denied involve family members of Holocaust victims. 

While most people rarely contemplate a class of policyholders this large, many European Jews during this devastating time in history had life insurance policies issued by Generali, AXA, Allianz and other insurance companies across the globe.  It is estimated that 900,000 insurance policies were held among the 6,000,000 Jews who perished in the Holocaust.  Although war is commonly excluded as a covered peril under most insurance policies, European Jews who died in Hitler’s death camps were not war casualties.  They were mass murder victims who died in Hitler’s systematic attempt to exterminate Jews in Europe.

Many people do not realize that a fair number of the insurance companies who provided policies to Jews prior to and during World War II did not honor death benefit claims made by surviving family members.  In some cases, the insurance companies even collaborated with the German government during the Holocaust to insure death camps.  The outstanding amount owed under those policies has been estimated to be as much as $90 billion.

After WWII, many claims by Jews who survived the Holocaust but lost loved ones were denied based on the inability of surviving family members to furnish a death certificate.  This requirement may seem ludicrous given that it was widely known that the German government never issued death certificates for victims who were killed in the Holocaust.  In 1998, the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC) was founded by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to identify and pay outstanding claims without expense to the claimants.  Unfortunately, the full value of the policies was not paid, so claimants typically received a fairly small portion of what was due under the policy.

While some point to reparation payments, these do not serve as a substitute for proceeds owed under valid insurance contracts.  Insurance companies should not be relieved of their contractual obligation to pay such claims because of reparation payments that have no connection to an insurance company or its issued policies.  Families of Holocaust victims have pushed President Obama to support legislation intended to obtain insurance benefits that have been denied for decades to family members that died at Auschwitz and Hitler’s other death camps.

While this blog relates a tragic historical account of insurance benefits being denied to the family members of murder victims, it also demonstrates the impact of denied life insurance benefits.  Many of these Jewish families lost their financial legacy in addition to beloved family members.

If you are the beneficiary of a life insurance policy purchased by a family member who has passed away, we may be able to help you pursue the benefits you deserve.  My law firm represents policyholders in claims disputes in Miami and throughout Florida.  The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations.  No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees.  Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.

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