as introduced - 81st Legislature (1999 - 2000) Posted on 12/15/2009 12:00am
1.1 A bill for an act 1.2 relating to insurance; establishing the Holocaust 1.3 Victims Insurance Relief Act; providing penalties; 1.4 proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, 1.5 chapter 60A. 1.6 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 1.7 Section 1. [HOLOCAUST VICTIMS INSURANCE RELIEF.] 1.8 Subdivision 1. [INTENT.] (a) The legislature recognizes 1.9 the existence of allegations that certain insurers doing 1.10 business in the state of Minnesota, either directly or through 1.11 related companies or affiliates, have failed to honor insurance 1.12 policies issued during the World War II era. Although these 1.13 policies were issued outside of the state of Minnesota, 1.14 Minnesota has a clear obligation to seek justice for its 1.15 citizens and residents. Minnesota seeks to provide its citizens 1.16 and residents an ability to collect benefits due and payable 1.17 from these insurers. 1.18 (b) The legislature recognizes that allegations regarding a 1.19 failure to pay legitimate insurance claims threaten the 1.20 integrity of the insurance market. The basic commodity that 1.21 insurers sell is trust. Policyholders pay substantial sums to 1.22 insurers trusting that at a future date, perhaps decades later, 1.23 the insurer will protect them and their loved ones. An insurer 1.24 that violates this trust should not be authorized to do business 1.25 in this state or own or control insurers doing business in this 2.1 state, lest the integrity of this state's insurance market be 2.2 compromised. 2.3 (c) The legislature recognizes that many Holocaust 2.4 survivors and heirs of Holocaust victims are citizens or 2.5 residents of the state of Minnesota. The legislature is 2.6 concerned by allegations that citizens or residents of the state 2.7 of Minnesota may have been deprived of their contractual 2.8 entitlement to benefits under insurance policies issued by 2.9 insurance companies operating in Europe prior to and during 2.10 World War II. The state of Minnesota has a public policy 2.11 interest in assuring that all of its citizens and residents, 2.12 including Holocaust survivors, their families, and the heirs of 2.13 Holocaust victims, who are entitled to proceeds of insurance 2.14 policies are treated reasonably and fairly and that any 2.15 contractual obligations are honored. 2.16 (d) The legislature recognizes that the business of 2.17 insurance is one affected by the public interest, requiring that 2.18 all persons conducting it be actuated by good faith, abstain 2.19 from deception, and practice honesty and equity in all insurance 2.20 matters. The commissioner is currently authorized to deny, 2.21 suspend, or revoke the certificate of authority of insurers that 2.22 are affiliated directly or indirectly through ownership, 2.23 control, reinsurance, or other insurance or business relations 2.24 with any person, persons, or entities whose business operations 2.25 are or have been marked, to the detriment of policyholders or 2.26 the public, by bad faith. The commissioner is also currently 2.27 authorized to provide assistance to members of the public in 2.28 resolving complaints involving insurers. It is the intent of 2.29 the legislature to provide additional resources to the 2.30 commissioner to implement this authority, to authorize the 2.31 commissioner to cooperate with other state regulators with 2.32 regard to these policies, and to authorize the commissioner to 2.33 cooperate with and act through the international commission 2.34 concerning World War II era policies established under the 2.35 efforts of the National Association of Commissioners. 2.36 Subd. 2. [FINDINGS.] The legislature finds the following: 3.1 (1) in addition to the many atrocities that befell the 3.2 victims of the Nazi regime, in many cases insurance policy 3.3 proceeds were not paid to the victims and their families. 3.4 (2) in many instances, insurance company records are the 3.5 only proof of insurance policies held. In some cases, 3.6 recollection of those policies' very existence may have perished 3.7 along with the Holocaust victims; 3.8 (3) an estimated 200 Holocaust survivors and their 3.9 families, or the heirs of Holocaust victims live in Minnesota 3.10 today; 3.11 (4) insurance companies doing business in the state of 3.12 Minnesota have a responsibility to ensure that any involvement 3.13 they or their related companies had with insurance policies of 3.14 Holocaust victims are disclosed to the state to ensure the rapid 3.15 payment to victims and their survivors of any proceeds to which 3.16 they may be entitled; 3.17 (5) an international commission to investigate and 3.18 facilitate the payment of insurance policy proceeds to victims 3.19 of the Holocaust and their survivors has been established. It 3.20 is in the best interest of the people of the state of Minnesota 3.21 to authorize the commissioner to cooperate with and coordinate 3.22 activities with the international commission; 3.23 (6) other states are establishing Holocaust survivor 3.24 assistance offices and registries of insurance policies and 3.25 Holocaust victims in order to identify policyholders and their 3.26 survivors to whom policy proceeds may be payable. It is in the 3.27 best interest of the people of the state of Minnesota to 3.28 authorize the commissioner to cooperate with and coordinate 3.29 activities with those other states; and 3.30 (7) in addition to unpaid insurance policies, Holocaust 3.31 victims lost unknown billions of dollars of assets seized by 3.32 Nazi Germany and its allies and collaborators in Germany and 3.33 Nazi-occupied Europe between 1933 and 1945. 3.34 Sec. 2. [60A.053] [HOLOCAUST VICTIMS RELIEF.] 3.35 Subdivision 1. [DEFINITIONS.] For purposes of this 3.36 section, the following terms have the meaning given them in this 4.1 subdivision unless the context clearly requires otherwise: 4.2 (a) "Holocaust survivor" or "Holocaust victim" means any 4.3 person who was persecuted, imprisoned or liable to imprisonment, 4.4 or had property taken or confiscated during the period of 1933 4.5 to 1945, inclusive, by Nazi Germany, its allies, or sympathizers 4.6 based on that person's race, religion, ethnicity, physical or 4.7 mental disability, sexual orientation, or similar class or 4.8 group-based animus; 4.9 (b) "related company" means any parent, subsidiary, 4.10 successor in interest, managing general agent, or other person 4.11 or company affiliated directly or indirectly through ownership, 4.12 control, common ownership or control, or other business or 4.13 insurance relationship with another company or insurer; 4.14 (c) "insurer" means an entity holding a certificate of 4.15 authority or license to conduct the business of insurance in 4.16 this state, or whose contacts with this state satisfy the 4.17 constitutional requirements for jurisdiction, that sold life, 4.18 property, liability, health, annuities, dowry, educational, 4.19 casualty, or any other insurance covering persons or property to 4.20 persons in Europe at any time before 1945, whether directly or 4.21 through or as result of sales by a related company, or is itself 4.22 a related company to any person, entity, or insurance company 4.23 that sold such policies, whether the sale of the insurance 4.24 occurred before or after becoming related; 4.25 (d) "proceeds" means the face or other payout value of 4.26 policies and annuities plus reasonable interest to date of 4.27 payments without diminution for wartime or immediate postwar 4.28 currency devaluation legally due under any insurance policy 4.29 issued by an insurer or any related company; and 4.30 (e) "international commission" means the international 4.31 commission on Holocaust era insurance claims, referenced in and 4.32 established under a memorandum of understanding originally dated 4.33 April 8, 1998, between and among the commissioner, various other 4.34 state insurance regulators, various alien insurance companies, 4.35 and worldwide Jewish groups, which commission held its first 4.36 meeting in the state of New York on October 21, 1998, and any 5.1 successor. 5.2 Subd. 2. [HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR ASSISTANCE OFFICE.] (a) To 5.3 assist Holocaust victims, their heirs, or their beneficiaries to 5.4 recover proceeds from insurance policies that were improperly 5.5 denied or processed, or from other assets, or both, the 5.6 commissioner may establish a Holocaust survivor assistance 5.7 office. 5.8 (b) The commissioner may appoint or deputize personnel to 5.9 be engaged or employed by the Holocaust survivor assistance 5.10 office and utilize insurance department personnel to resolve or 5.11 settle claims of Holocaust victims. The commissioner may also 5.12 engage outside auditors or other qualified personnel to assist 5.13 in the investigation of claims made by Holocaust victims, their 5.14 heirs, or their beneficiaries. 5.15 (c) The commissioner may cooperate and exchange information 5.16 with other states establishing similar Holocaust survivor 5.17 assistance offices and with the international commission, and 5.18 may enter into agreements whereby a single processing office may 5.19 be established on behalf of, and to provide services to the 5.20 residents of, several states. 5.21 Subd. 3. [HOLOCAUST INSURANCE COMPANY REGISTRY.] (a) To 5.22 facilitate the work of the Holocaust survivor assistance office, 5.23 the commissioner may establish and maintain a central registry 5.24 to be known as the Holocaust insurance company registery, 5.25 containing records and information relating to insurance 5.26 policies, as described in subdivision 4, of victims, living and 5.27 deceased, of the Holocaust. The commissioner shall establish 5.28 standards and procedures to make the information in the registry 5.29 available to the public to the extent necessary and appropriate 5.30 to determine the existence of insurance policies and to identify 5.31 beneficiaries, successors in interest, or other persons entitled 5.32 to the proceeds of the policies, and to enable persons to claim 5.33 proceeds to which they may be entitled, while protecting the 5.34 privacy of policyholders, their survivors, and their family 5.35 members. All information received by the Holocaust insurance 5.36 company registry or Holocaust survivor assistance office from 6.1 any insurer, related company, or foreign government or regulator 6.2 is considered to be working papers or documents obtained in the 6.3 course of an examination that may be treated as confidential 6.4 under section 60A.031, subdivision 4, paragraph (f). To the 6.5 extent necessary and appropriate to secure access to documents 6.6 and information located in or subject to the jurisdiction of 6.7 other states and countries, the commissioner may enter into 6.8 agreements or provide assurances that any or all documents and 6.9 information received from an entity regulated by or subject to 6.10 the laws of such other state or country, or received from any 6.11 agency of the government of any state or country, will be 6.12 treated as confidential by the commissioner and will not be 6.13 disclosed to any person except with the approval of the 6.14 appropriate authority of the state or country or except as 6.15 permitted or authorized by the laws of the state or country. 6.16 Any such agreement is binding and enforceable. To the extent 6.17 necessary and appropriate to secure access to documents and 6.18 information from or in the possession of the international 6.19 commission as to which the international commission has given 6.20 assurances of confidentiality or privacy, the commissioner may 6.21 enter into agreements or to provide assurances that the 6.22 documents and information will be treated as confidential or 6.23 protected nonpublic by the commissioner and will not be 6.24 disclosed to any person except with the approval of the 6.25 international commission or as permitted by any agreement or 6.26 assurances given by the international commission, and any such 6.27 agreement or assurance is binding and enforceable. 6.28 (b) The commissioner may cooperate and exchange information 6.29 with other states establishing similar registries and with the 6.30 international commission, and may enter into agreements whereby 6.31 a single registry may be established on behalf of, and to 6.32 provide services to the citizens and residents of, several 6.33 states. 6.34 Subd. 4. [OPERATIONS OF HOLOCAUST INSURANCE COMPANY 6.35 REGISTRY.] (a) Any insurer that sold life, property, liability, 6.36 health, annuities, dowry, educational, or casualty insurance 7.1 policies, to persons in Europe, that were in effect any time 7.2 between 1933 and 1945, regardless of when the policy was 7.3 initially purchased or written, shall within 90 days following 7.4 the effective date of this act, or a later date the commissioner 7.5 may establish, file or cause to be filed the following 7.6 information with the commissioner for entry into the Holocaust 7.7 insurance company registry: 7.8 (1) a list of the insurance policies; 7.9 (2) the insureds, beneficiaries, and face amounts of the 7.10 policies; 7.11 (3) a comparison of the names and other available 7.12 identifying information of insureds and beneficiaries of such 7.13 policies and the names and other identifying information of the 7.14 victims of the Holocaust. The names and other identifying 7.15 information of victims of the Holocaust must be provided by the 7.16 office of the insurance commissioner and may be obtained from 7.17 the United States Holocaust Museum and the Yad Vashem Repository 7.18 in Israel, or other sources; 7.19 (4) for each policy, whichever of the following that 7.20 applies: 7.21 (i) that the proceeds of the policy have been paid to the 7.22 designated beneficiaries or their heirs where that person or 7.23 persons, after diligent search, could be located and identified; 7.24 (ii) that the proceeds of the policies where the 7.25 beneficiaries or heirs could not, after diligent search, be 7.26 located or identified, have been distributed to Holocaust 7.27 survivors or to qualified charitable nonprofit organizations for 7.28 the purpose of assisting Holocaust survivors; 7.29 (iii) that a court of law has certified in a legal 7.30 proceeding resolving the rights of unpaid policyholders, their 7.31 heirs, and beneficiaries, a plan for the distribution of the 7.32 proceeds; and 7.33 (iv) that the proceeds have not been distributed and the 7.34 amount of those proceeds. 7.35 (b) An insurer currently doing business in this state that 7.36 did not sell any insurance policies in Europe before 1945 except 8.1 through or as a result of sales by a related company is not 8.2 subject to this section if a related company, whether or not 8.3 authorized and currently doing business in this state, has made 8.4 a filing with the insurance commissioner under this section. 8.5 (c) The commissioner may fund the costs of operating both 8.6 the Holocaust survivor assistance office and the Holocaust 8.7 claims registry by assessments upon those insurers providing 8.8 information to the Holocaust insurance company registry. The 8.9 commissioner shall establish standards and procedures to fairly 8.10 allocate the costs of the Holocaust insurance company registry 8.11 and Holocaust survivor assistance office among such insurers. 8.12 The commissioner shall allocate these costs based on the number 8.13 of policies reported or, based on the total monetary amount of 8.14 the policies as determined by their face amounts without regard 8.15 to inflation, interest, or depreciation. 8.16 (d) The commissioner may conduct investigations and 8.17 examinations of insurers for the purpose of determining 8.18 compliance with this section, verifying the accuracy and 8.19 completeness of any and all information furnished to the 8.20 Holocaust insurance company registry and the Holocaust survivor 8.21 assistance office, and developing and securing additional 8.22 information as may be necessary or appropriate to determine 8.23 those entitled to payment under any policy and the proceeds to 8.24 which the person may be entitled, if any. An investigation 8.25 under this paragraph is considered to be an examination under 8.26 section 60A.031. The costs of the examination must be borne by 8.27 the insurer investigated, or the insurer to whom the related 8.28 company is related, pursuant to section 60A.031, subdivision 3. 8.29 Examinations may be conducted in this state, or in the state or 8.30 country of residence of the insurer or related company, or at 8.31 the place or country where the records to be examined may be 8.32 located. 8.33 (e) Notwithstanding the restrictions of section 60A.03, 8.34 subdivision 9, or 60A.031, subdivision 4, the commissioner may 8.35 cooperate with and exchange information with other states with 8.36 similar Holocaust insurance company registries or Holocaust 9.1 survivor assistance offices, with the National Association of 9.2 Commissioners, with foreign countries, and with the 9.3 international commission. The commissioner may enter into 9.4 agreements to handle the processing of claims and registry 9.5 functions of other states, and to have other states handle all 9.6 or part of the registry and claims processing functions for this 9.7 state, as the commissioner may determine to be appropriate. The 9.8 commissioner may enter into agreements with other states and the 9.9 international commission to treat and consider information 9.10 submitted to them as submitted to this state for the purpose of 9.11 complying with this section. As part of any such agreement, the 9.12 commissioner may agree to reimburse any other state for expenses 9.13 or costs incurred and the reimbursement must be recovered by the 9.14 commissioner as an expense of operating the Holocaust insurance 9.15 company registry and Holocaust survivor assistance office under 9.16 this paragraph and paragraph (d), and to accept reimbursement 9.17 from any other state for services with regard to residents of 9.18 the other state. 9.19 (f) A finding by the commissioner that a claim subject to 9.20 the provisions of this section should be paid must be regarded 9.21 by any court as highly persuasive evidence that the claim should 9.22 be paid. 9.23 Subd. 5. [PENALTIES.] Any insurer that knowingly files 9.24 information required by this section that is false may be 9.25 assessed a civil penalty by the commissioner not to exceed 9.26 $10,000 for each violation. 9.27 Subd. 6. [SUSPENSION OF CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORITY FOR 9.28 FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THIS SECTION.] The commissioner may 9.29 suspend the certificate of authority to conduct insurance 9.30 business in the state of Minnesota of any insurer that has been 9.31 found to have violated this section by or after 120 days after 9.32 the effective date of this act, until the time that the insurer 9.33 complies with this section. The suspension does not affect or 9.34 relieve the insurer from its obligations to service its existing 9.35 insureds, and does not permit the insurer to terminate its 9.36 existing insureds, except pursuant to the terms of the insurance 10.1 contract, but does prohibit the insurer from writing new 10.2 business in this state until the suspension is lifted by the 10.3 commissioner. 10.4 Subd. 7. [COOPERATION WITH INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION.] The 10.5 commissioner may suspend the application of this section to any 10.6 insurer that is participating in the international commission 10.7 process in good faith and is working through the international 10.8 commission to resolve all outstanding claims with offers of fair 10.9 settlements in a reasonable time frame. If, however, the 10.10 international commission fails to establish a mechanism to 10.11 accomplish identification, adjudication, and payment of 10.12 insurance policy claims of Holocaust survivors or victims within 10.13 a reasonable time, then this section applies to the insurer. 10.14 For purposes of this section, a reasonable time means by 10.15 September 30, 2000, or a later date the commissioner establishes 10.16 by rule. 10.17 Subd. 8. [PRIVATE RIGHTS OF ACTION PRESERVED; VENUE.] Any 10.18 Holocaust survivor, or heir or beneficiary of a Holocaust 10.19 survivor or victim, who resides in this state and has a claim 10.20 against an insurer arising out of an insurance policy or 10.21 policies purchased or in effect in Europe before 1945 from that 10.22 insurer, may bring a legal action against that insurer to 10.23 recover on that claim in the district court of the county in 10.24 which a plaintiff resides. 10.25 Subd. 9. [EXTENSION OF STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS.] An action 10.26 brought by a Holocaust survivor or the heir or beneficiary of a 10.27 Holocaust survivor or victim, seeking proceeds of the insurance 10.28 policies issued or in effect before 1945, must not be dismissed 10.29 for failure to comply with the applicable statute of 10.30 limitations, provided the action is commenced on or before 10.31 December 31, 2010. 10.32 Subd. 10. [ADOPTION OF RULES.] The commissioner may adopt 10.33 rules to implement this section. 10.34 Subd. 11. [REPORT TO LEGISLATURE.] The commissioner shall 10.35 report to the legislature on January 15, 2001, and annually 10.36 thereafter on the implementation of this act and resolution of 11.1 Holocaust claims. 11.2 Subd. 12. [SHORT TITLE.] This section may be known as the 11.3 Holocaust Victim Insurance Relief Act of 2000. 11.4 Subd. 13. [EXPIRATION.] This section expires December 31, 11.5 2010.