European Insurance Firms to Expedite Survivors’ Claims

An international commission has been established to expedite the processing of insurance claims by Holocaust survivors and the heirs of victims.

The agreement to set up the commission was signed Wednesday in New York. Signatories include the state insurance commissioners of New York and California, four major European insurance companies and three Jewish organizations.

Participants called the agreement a “historic breakthrough.”

The commission, which will be composed of all the signatories, will have investigatory powers and will set up a mechanism to resolve conflicts between claimants and insurers.

The agreement also calls for establishing a fund to underwrite the commission’s work and to provide humanitarian relief to families of Holocaust victims.

In a series of hearings by state insurance regulators earlier this year, numerous witnesses charged that European insurance companies have been stalling for 50 years to avoid payment on policies taken out by Jews in the 1930s.

The insurance companies participating in the new commission are: Allianz Holding of Germany, Assicurazioni Generali of Italy, AXA Group of France and Zurich Insurance of Switzerland.

Jewish groups that signed the agreement included the World Jewish Restitution Organization, the World Jewish Congress and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

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