June 30, 2003
The Office of Financial and Insurance Services (OFIS) Commissioner Linda A. Watters announced today that German insurance companies have made public the names of 363,232 victims of the Holocaust who were covered by life insurance policies but whose records were previously sealed. The publication of names was required under the terms of an agreement entitled "Remembrance, Responsibility, and the Future" signed in October by the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEAC - www.icheic.org).
"For the first time many relatives of the victims across the world, and right here in Michigan, have evidence of life insurance coverage and are able to file claims for benefits," said Watters.
European insurers that sold coverage as World War II approached - and routinely refused to pay claims after the war citing the lack of proof of policy, possession of death certificate, and payment to other parties - have fought the publication of policyholders' names, often citing privacy laws.
"So many lives were lost in such tragedy. To make it virtually impossible to prove the existence of a policy only added to the feeling of despair that millions of families felt," added Watters.
The new names are available on the ICHEAC web site (www.icheic.org). Claimants have until September 30, 2003 to file claims with the ICHEAC on covered policies.
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The Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Services (OFIS) is responsible for the regulation of Blue Cross Blue Shield, 31 HMOs, 143 banks, 275 credit unions, almost 1,500 insurance companies, 1,583 investment advisers, 2,164 securities broker-dealers, 6,000 consumer finance lenders, 105,000 insurance agents, and 120,715 securities agents.
OFIS is part of the Department of Consumer and Industry Services and is primarily fee-funded, requiring minimal public tax dollars for its regulatory and consumer assistance activities. OFIS has insurance, financial institutions and securities information available online at the OFIS web site, www.michigan.gov/difs, or at the Michigan government home page, www.michigan.gov. All information is also available through the OFIS toll free number, 877-999-6442. If you would like to receive OFIS press releases electronically, please email email@example.com.