(1) SHORT TITLE.--This section may be cited as the “Holocaust Victims Assistance Act.”
(2) INTENT; PURPOSE.--It is the Legislature’s intent that the potential and actual insurance claims, actual financial claims, and the assets and property of Holocaust victims and their heirs and beneficiaries be expeditiously identified and properly paid, compensated, or returned. The Legislature also intends that Holocaust victims and their families receive appropriate assistance in the filing and payment of their rightful claims, and in addressing the effects of the nonpayment of claims or nonreturn of confiscated assets and property on the victims, including assistance with gaining access to funding provided to address such effects.
(3) DEFINITIONS.-- As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Holocaust victim” means any person who lost his or her life or property as a result of discriminatory laws, policies, or actions targeted against discrete groups of persons between 1920 and 1945, inclusive, in Nazi Germany, areas occupied by Nazi Germany, or countries allied with Nazi Germany.
(b) “Insurance policy” means, but is not limited to, life insurance, property insurance, or education policies.
(c) “Legal relationship” means any parent, subsidiary, or affiliated company with an insurer doing business in this state.
(d) “Proceeds” means the face or other payout value of policies, annuities, or other financial instruments or assets, plus reasonable interest to the date of payment without diminution for wartime or immediate postwar currency devaluation.
(4) ASSISTANCE TO HOLOCAUST VICTIMS.--The department shall establish a toll-free telephone number, available in appropriate languages, to assist any person seeking to recover insurance claims or other financial proceeds or property owed to a Holocaust victim, and to assist through education to mitigate the effects of the nonpayment of claims or nonreturn of property on Holocaust survivors.
(5) PROOF OF A CLAIM.--Any insurer doing business in this state, in receipt of a claim from a Holocaust victim or from a beneficiary, descendant, or heir of a Holocaust victim, shall:
(a) Diligently and expeditiously investigate all such claims.
(b) Allow such claimants to meet a reasonable, not unduly restrictive, standard of proof to substantiate a claim, pursuant to standards established by the department.
(c) Permit claims irrespective of any statute of limitations or notice requirements imposed by any insurance policy issued, provided the claim is submitted on or before July 1, 2018.
(6) STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS.--Notwithstanding any law or agreement among the parties to an insurance policy to the contrary, any action brought by Holocaust victims or by a beneficiary, heir, or a descendant of a Holocaust victim seeking proceeds of an insurance policy issued or in effect between 1920 and 1945, inclusive, shall not be dismissed for failure to comply with the applicable statute of limitations or laches provided the action is commenced on or before July 1, 2018.
(7) REPORTS FROM INSURERS.--
(a) Any insurer doing business in this state has an affirmative duty to ascertain the following to the extent possible and report to the department all efforts made and the results of such efforts:
1. Any legal relationship with an international insurer that issued an insurance policy to a Holocaust victim between 1920 and 1945, inclusive.
2. The number and total value of such policies.
3. Any claim filed by a Holocaust victim, his or her beneficiary, heir, or descendant that has been paid, denied payment, or is pending.
4. Attempts made by the insurer to locate the beneficiaries of any such policies for which a claim of benefits has not been made.
5. An explanation of any denial or pending payment of a claim to a Holocaust victim, his or her beneficiary, heir, or descendant.
(b) Insurers shall timely file a new report if there are any changes to the previous report, or if requested to do so by the department. Insurers shall timely provide any information regarding unpaid Holocaust claims or any information necessary to substantiate the accuracy of such reports upon the request of the department.
(8) REPORTS TO THE LEGISLATURE.--By July 1 of each year, the department shall report to the Legislature:
(a) The number of insurers doing business in this state which have a legal relationship with an international insurer that could have issued a policy to a Holocaust victim between 1920 and 1945, inclusive.
(b) A list of all claims paid, denied, or pending to a Holocaust victim, his or her beneficiary, heir, or descendant.
(c) Any efforts made on behalf of Holocaust victims to secure financial reparations or other assistance.
(9) PENALTIES.--In addition to any other penalty provided under this chapter, any insurer or person who violates the provisions of this section is subject to an administrative penalty of $1,000 per day for each day such violation continues.
(10) PRIVATE RIGHT OF ACTION.--An action to recover damages caused by a violation of this section must be commenced within 5 years after the cause of action has accrued. Any person who shall sustain damages by the reason of a violation of this section shall recover threefold the actual damages sustained thereby, as well as costs not exceeding $50,000, and reasonable attorneys’ fees. At or before the commencement of any civil action by a party, notice thereof shall be served upon the department.
(11) RULES.--The department, by rule, shall provide for the implementation of this section by establishing procedures and related forms for facilitating, monitoring, and verifying compliance with this section and for the establishment of a restitution and assistance program for Holocaust victims, survivors, and their heirs and beneficiaries.
(12) SEVERABILITY.--If any provision of this section or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of the section which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this section are declared severable.
s. 9, ch. 98-173; s. 25, ch. 99-3; s. 76, ch. 2004-390; s. 21, ch. 2008-220; s. 1, ch. 2013-149.