Two members of the Florida delegation--Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen--teamed up to introduce a bill helping Holocaust survivors and their heirs with insurance claims.
Nelson and Ros-Lehtinen brought out the “Holocaust Insurance Accountability Act of 2016” last week. Co-sponsors include U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and California Democrats U.S. Reps. John Garemendi and Brad Sherman.
After World War Two, many Holocaust victims’ families and survivors filed insurance claims only to find them rejected due to a lack of paperwork including death certificates and policy papers which were often seized or destroyed by the Nazis and their allies. Nelson’s and Ros-Lehtinen’s bill would make insurance companies reveal Holocaust-era policyholders and permit “beneficiaries of Holocaust insurance policies and their heirs to bring suits in U.S. courts to recover any proceeds under the policies to which they may be entitled.”
On Thursday, Ros-Lehtinen noted that Congress overrid President Barack Obama’s veto of a bill allowing 9/11 victims’ families to sue Saudi Arabia and insisted her legislation was following suit.
“Congress has overwhelmingly voted – for the second time – to allow the families and victims of 9/11 to finally have their day in court after 15 years and to seek the justice that has evaded them since that fateful day,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “Now Congress has an opportunity to address the lingering injustices that Holocaust survivors have faced for over 70 years by restoring their rights and finally giving them, their heirs and the heirs of victims an opportunity to bring their cases before a federal judge. For far too long, insurance companies have been allowed to deny just compensation to victims of the Holocaust by placing undue burdens on them and by hiding behind bureaucratic red tape which has prevented cases from being brought against these insurance companies in the U.S.
“We can no longer allow survivors and their families to continue to be victimized by those who benefited from the atrocities of the Holocaust and we must no longer allow U.S. citizens to continue to be denied their right of access to our legal system,” Ros-Lehtinen added. “That is why I am pleased to be joined by Brad, John, Bill and Marco in introducing this bill and why I will continue to fight to ensure that these insurance companies are held accountable for the seven decades of continued exploitation of victims of the Holocaust.”
Nelson’s bill was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee while Ros-Lehtinen’s was sent to the House Judiciary Committee.