Sunday, 21 April 2013

Dutch insurers lobby vigorously against U.S. Holocaust Insurance Act

Several Dutch insurance companies are lobbying against the passing of the Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act by the U.S. Congress.

The Amsterdam-based daily De Telegraaf reported last week that the insurance giants Aegon and ING as well as the Dutch Association of Insurers have “lobbied jointly dozens of times” against various versions of a bill which, if passed, would allow Holocaust survivors to file individual civil action suits against insurance companies.

Also known as the Tom Lantos Justice for Holocaust Survivors Act, the bill has been introduced a number of times over the years, only to be stymied by process. It is written specifically to allow survivors with unpaid insurance claims to sue insurance companies -- and perhaps more importantly, would force those same companies to release a full list of unclaimed policies from that era. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the bill's longtime champion, is set to reintroduce it in the coming weeks.

American survivors are now prevented from suing on their own by court rulings that said their claims must be settled in talks with the federal government.

According to De Telegraaf, the information on the Dutch insurers’ attempts to block the bill is based on figures and documents published on the website of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nongovernmental organization which “tracks money in U.S. politics.”

An unnamed spokesperson for Dutch insurance companies is quoted by De Telegraaf as saying: “It’s not that we don’t want to pay, but the bill does more harm than good. There are good mechanisms in place for evaluating claims and the bill would just mean more money for lawyers.”

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