The California Department of Insurance has cancelled historic insurance policies for Holocaust Era Insurance and Slavery Era Insurance.
During World War II, many Jewish families in Europe purchased life insurance policies as financial protection for loved ones who would survive the war. However, Nazi Germany did not preserve insurance policy documents nor did they issue death certificates for Jews and countless untold others murdered in the concentration camps. As a result, many Holocaust victims and their heirs to this day have been unable to collect on the policies purchased over half a century ago.
The State of California’s Department of Insurance has played a pivotal role in protecting the rights of Holocaust survivors and their heirs. California was instrumental in the establishment of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims (ICHEIC) and acted as both an active participant and a constructive critic in ICHEIC’s development and work. After ICHEIC’s closing in March 2007, the Department remains aggressive in its representation of claimant’s interest. The Department’s files regarding ICHEIC’s development and operation, as well as claims files, will be preserved at the California State Archive in Sacramento. ICHEIC’s documents will become part of the archive at the US Holocaust Museum.
This website is a public resource for all people to learn more about Holocaust Era Insurance Claims. Please select one of the areas below for more information.
In August 2000 the California legislature found that
“Insurance policies from the slavery era have been discovered in the archives of several insurance companies, documenting insurance coverage for slaveholders for damage to or death of their slaves, issued by a predecessor insurance firm. These documents provide the first evidence of ill-gotten profits from slavery, which profits in part capitalized insurers whose successors remain in existence today.” SB2199 Sec. 1(a).
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Governor Davis signed the bill (SB2199) into law in September 2000. The statute took effect January 1, 2001. California Code of Regulations, Title 10, Sections 2393 – 2398 implement the statute.
Section 13810: The Commissioner shall request and obtain information from insurers licensed and doing business in this state regarding any records of slaveholder insurance policies issued by any predecessor corporation during the slavery era.
Section 13811: The Commissioner shall obtain the names of any slaveholders or slaves described in those insurance records, and shall make the information available to the public and the Legislature.
Section 13812: Each insurer licensed and doing business in this state shall research and report to the Commissioner with respect to any records within the insurer’s possession or knowledge relating to insurance policies issued to slaveholders that provided coverage for damage to or death or their slaves.
Section 13813: Descendants of slaves, whose ancestors were defined as private property, dehumanized, divided from their families, forced to perform labor without appropriate compensation or benefits, and whose ancestors’ owners were compensated for damages by insurers, are entitled to full disclosure.
Below are links to the Department’s report to the California Legislature describing the information received from insurers in response to this statute, including the database of slave and slaveholder names and identifying information.