European insurers are asking the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims to return $20 million they gave the commission for expenses between 1998 and 2000.
The insurers want to use the money to cover the cost of handling claims on Nazi-era policies filed by Holocaust survivors and survivors heirs, according to U.S. state insurance regulators interviewed.
The insurers themselves are processing the claims, and managers of a $4.4 billion German Holocaust compensation foundation say ICHEIC no longer needs the $20 million, because the foundation will pay $20 million of its costs, regulators say.
These insurers want to have the $20 million reimbursed from ICHEIC after the foundation pays the $20 million to ICHEIC.
But the regulators note that the foundation has budgeted only $130 million for claims against German insurers and their affiliates. If the insurers are reimbursed, regulators say that the money available for claimants would be reduced.
“Im hoping the foundation will relent from its position, so that an appropriate amount of money can go to the survivors and their heirs,” says Nathan Shapo, Illinois insurance director and chair of the Holocaust task force at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo.
ICHEIC held a special, closed meeting on the claims review process last week near its headquarters in Washington.
Shapo says a confidentiality agreement prevents him from discussing the meeting. A representative for the German compensation foundation also declined to comment.
A German government agency paid many Holocaust-related insurance claims in the 1950s, but the NAIC began working with insurers and representatives of Jewish groups to organize ICHEIC in the late 1990s, to address concerns that some survivors and heirs were having trouble with claims.
Representatives of the NAIC and the Jewish groups attend ICHEIC meetings, but most meetings are closed to the public, according to a complaint filed in May in Los Angeles state court on behalf of Felicia Spirer Haberfeld, an elderly Holocaust survivor.