Menu JTA Search

California Will Help Survivors Pursue Insurance Compensation

California will aid Holocaust survivors and heirs of Holocaust victims in their claims against European insurance companies under two bills signed by Gov. Pete Wilson.

One bill provides $4 million to enable state Insurance Department investigators to go to Europe and comb the files of major insurance companies that have been unwilling to honor Holocaust-era claims.

The new law also makes it easier to suspend the licenses of European insurers operating in California, if they fail to honor valid claims.

In a Sacramento, Calif., ceremony hours before the start of Yom Kippur and attended by Jewish leaders, Wilson also signed a complementary bill.

Under its terms, recipients will not have to pay state income taxes on recovered Holocaust-era assets from banks, insurance companies or return of looted art.

In addition, low-income recipients will not lose any public assistance benefits as the result of such restitution payments. Some 3,000 survivors living below the poverty line are in the Los Angeles area, according to State Treasurer Matt Fong.

Wilson vetoed a third bill, strongly opposed by insurance companies, that would have required insurance companies to reveal within six months the names of all European policyholders from 1920 to 1945, or lose their California operating licenses.

In addition, insurers would have had to check the names of their policyholders and beneficiaries against the names — provided by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem – – of all known Holocaust victims.

NEXT STORY