Section 626.9543, Florida Statutes 2001
626.9543 Holocaust victims.--
(1) SHORT TITLE.--This section may be cited as the "Holocaust Victims Insurance Act."
(2) INTENT; PURPOSE.--It is the Legislature's intent that the potential and actual insurance claims of Holocaust victims and their heirs and beneficiaries be expeditiously identified and properly paid and that Holocaust victims and their families receive appropriate assistance in the filing and payment of their rightful claims.
(3) DEFINITIONS.--For the purpose of this section:
(a) "Department" means the Department of Insurance.
(b) "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.
(c) "Insurance policy" means, but is not limited to, life insurance, property insurance, or education policies.
(d) "Legal relationship" means any parent, subsidiary, or affiliated company with an insurer doing business in this state.
(e) "Proceeds" means the face or other payout value of policies and annuities plus reasonable interest to date of payments 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 proceeds from an insurance policy issued to a Holocaust victim.
(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 within 10 years after the effective date of this section.
(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 within 10 years after the effective date of this section.
(7) REPORTS FROM INSURERS.--Any insurer doing business in this state shall have an affirmative duty to ascertain to the extent possible and report to the department within 90 days after the effective date of this section and annually thereafter all efforts made and results of such efforts to ascertain:
(a) Any legal relationship with an international insurer that issued an insurance policy to a Holocaust victim between 1920 and 1945, inclusive.
(b) The number and total value of such policies.
(c) Any claim filed by a Holocaust victim, his or her beneficiary, heir, or descendant that has been paid, denied payment, or is pending.
(d) Attempts made by the insurer to locate the beneficiaries of any such policies for which no claim of benefits has been made.
(e) An explanation of any denial or pending payment of a claim to a Holocaust victim, his or her beneficiary, heir, or descendant.
(8) REPORTS TO THE LEGISLATURE.--The department shall report to the Legislature 1 year after the effective date of this section and annually thereafter:
(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) A summary of the length of time for the processing and disposition of a claim by the insurer.
(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 the provisions 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 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.
History.--s. 9, ch. 98-173; s. 25, ch. 99-3.