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CONSUMERS: 1999 PRESS RELEASE

For Release: December 1, 1999
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER CHUCK QUACKENBUSH REACHES SECOND AND THIRD AGREEMENTS IN TWO DAYS WITHCOMPANIES TO RESOLVE INSURANCE CLAIMS OF CALIFORNIA HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS

Dutch Insurers Fortis and ING Sign Agreements

LOS ANGELES - Prior to commencing a hearing in Los Angeles to investigate the readiness of insurance companies to comply with California's Holocaust Registry Law, Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush announced that an agreement had been reached that would help resolve outstanding Holocaust-era insurance restitution issues for two additional companies scheduled to give testimony at the Los Angeles hearing.

"Today's hearing will now be effectively shortened by two additional companies, because of the desire of ING and Fortis, in my estimation, to be models of moral and corporate leadership," said Commissioner Quackenbush. "They have stepped to the plate to certify their commitment to work to meet the terms of California law, as well as to make a contribution to bring the humanitarian fund for California survivors to a total of $4.2 million."

The terms of the agreements signed by ING and Fortis are similar to those executed and announced in the November 30, 1999 agreement with Aegon. Specifically, the stipulations underscore the historical efforts of ING and Fortis to pay claims, and highlights specific agreements with Commissioner Quackenbush to:

  1. Cooperate fully with the California Department of Insurance (CDI) in investigating any California resident's claim brought to its attention, by emphasizing that the parties to the agreement both commit to pay expeditiously any and all rightful insurance claims of any victim, beneficiary or heir of the World War II Holocaust that is currently a legal resident of the State of California.

  2. Work with the Dutch Holocaust Claims Foundation (Sjoa Foundation**) to obtain access to Holocaust-era policyholder information to fully comply with California's Holocaust Registry Law (AB 600, Knox).

  3. Provide a list - within 60 days -- of currently held and predecessor ING and Fortis companies (corporate family tree) that insured potential Holocaust victims.

  4. Facilitate CDI access to records and claims paying procedures to properly verify claims payment processes.

  5. Establish a Humanitarian Fund, exclusive of California residents' claims payments, bringing the total contribution to the Humanitarian Fund for California Holocaust survivors to $4.2 million.

"These are truly remarkable breakthroughs, made possible by companies that are obviously ahead of the pack in terms of moving beyond just talk about doing what is needed to right this historic wrong, but actually doing something about it," said Steve Koff, Regional Director of B'nai B'rith and a member of the California Holocaust Settlement Alliance (CHSA) and the CHSA's Executive Advisory Group.

The agreement further underscores that within five days of the notification of a California resident's claim, Fortis or ING shall submit the claim to the Sjoa Foundation. Fortis and ING also agree to take all reasonable steps necessary to ensure that the California resident's claim is investigated and resolved properly. A copy of all documentation related to the resolution of any California resident's claim shall be provided to the CDI.

 

"I applaud ING and Fortis for the speed with which they have moved to execute agreements similar to the one announced yesterday with Aegon -- agreements that will at long last benefit Holocaust survivors, heirs and beneficiaries in California," said Marie Kauffman, Chairperson of Child Survivors of the Holocaust, Los Angeles and a member of the California Holocaust Settlement Alliance and the CHSA's Executive Advisory Group.

The agreements come just hours before the first of two hearings scheduled today and tomorrow. Commissioner Quackenbush called these hearings on November 9, 1999, to "gauge exactly where they [insurance companies] are, and intend to be, with respect to complying with California law." The agreements preclude the need for ING and Fortis to testify as originally planned at the December 1, 1999 hearing in Los Angeles, and they will continue to work, as agreed, to make available the information as necessary to comply with existing Holocaust-related reporting obligations in California (California Holocaust Registry Law).

 

**The Sjoa Foundation was established in Holland as a result of a cooperative effort between Dutch Jewish organizations and the Dutch Association of Insurers for purposes of investigating and resolving unpaid insurance claims of Holocaust-era victims submitted by persons worldwide.

 

HEARING DETAILS

WEDNESDAY, December 1, 1999, 10:00 a.m.

California Department of Insurance
300 South Spring Street
Hearing Room
Ground Floor/North Tower
(Across from Credit Union)
Los Angeles, California

THURSDAY, December 2, 1999, 10:00 a.m.

California Department of Insurance
45 Fremont Street
22nd Floor Hearing Room
San Francisco, California

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