An international insurance company is sponsoring a golf tournament in South Florida this weekend, and a group of Holocaust survivors and their families are planning to be there. Not in the stands, though; they plan to be protesting. The company, Allianz, owes them thousands of dollars for insurance claims made by family members who died at the hands of the Nazis. The insurer disagrees.
The insurance company was part of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims that was established in the late 1990s. The commission made payments until 2007 -- payments totaling $250 million to 14,000 policyholders. For holders of 34,000 denied claims, the commission authorized "humanitarian payments" totaling $34 million. Allianz's portion, according to the New York Times, came to approximately $12 million.
The survivor group involved in the protest is just one of many that claims the process was flawed, if only because the insurance companies set the rules. The attorney for the group said the amount dedicated to unpaid claims was a fraction of what was actually owed. He estimated that Allianz alone owes $2 million on unpaid claims.
The commission, however, was the body of last resort for survivors still owed money, according to U.S. courts. Claimants are barred from suing the companies.
One man's story, though, provides a powerful example of just how flawed the commission's process was. More than ten years after the end of the war, he and a sibling asked Allianz for the benefits from their father's policy. The company refused, telling them the proceeds had been paid on November 9, 1938 to a "person unknown." That night just happens to have been Kristallnacht, when their father's grocery store was burned down.
What happened to the cash? Allianz was no different from other insurers in Germany then -- they paid the money to Nazis instead of to the Jewish policyholders.
Now, the protesters want to let Allianz know that the golf tournament's $1.8 million purse is money that belongs to survivors.
Source: Sun-Sentinel, "Allianz: Angry that insurance claims have never been paid, Holocaust survivors to protest German insurance company," 02/04/11