Wash. Files Amicus Brief in Support of Calif. Holocaust Victims Relief Act

February 20, 2002

In a show of solidarity with the California Department of Insurance, the Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner has filed an amicus brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in support of California’s legally besieged 1999 Holocaust Victims Insurance Relief Act (HVIRA). Washington is one of several states with a similar law providing protection for the rights of Holocaust-era insurance policyholders.

“The very integrity of insurance is at stake in the courts, not to mention the justice currently denied to thousands of claimants,” Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler declared.

Under the HVIRA, any insurance company doing business in California must file with the Insurance Commissioner information about all insurance policies sold by it or its related companies to persons in Europe which were in effect between 1920 and 1945. The Commissioner is also required to suspend the certificate of authority of any insurer that fails to provide this information.

Insurance companies Gerling, Generali, Winterthur and the American Insurance Association assert that insurance commissioners do not have the authority to require them to provide information about the business practices outside of the state that he or she regulates.

The Washington brief asserts that it is constitutional for states to require international insurers or holding company groups to provide the names of policyholders on Holocaust-era policies issued by their European affiliates.

“It is well within our authority as regulators to require insurance companies doing business in our states provide us with documents or information in the hands of foreign affiliates if they wish to continue doing business in our state,” Kreidler said. “If the companies succeed in overturning state law in this case, it will send a ripple affect across the nation, effectively diminishing our authority to regulate unfair business practices.”

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