Bill would help survivors get insurance data

The measure is aimed at insurance companies which are now doing business in California and which provided or were affiliated with companies that wrote policies in Europe between 1920 and 1945. These companies would be required to submit records on these policies to the state Department of Insurance.

That information would then be cross-referenced with the names of Holocaust victims and made available to survivors of the victims in a new Holocaust Insurance Registry.

Insurance companies are thought to have issued life and property policies to more than a million Jews in the pre-World War II years. Experts believe that insurers could be liable for tens of billions of dollars on these policies.

"Insurance companies have refused to come forward voluntarily with information on policies held by Holocaust victims," Knox said in a statement. "What chance do the families have of obtaining the documents when victims of the Holocaust fled or were taken from their homes, leaving all their possessions behind?

"We must establish a system to rectify this wrong."

Recently, Italian insurer Assicurazioni Generali, one of the offending companies, announced it would open its records to American investigators.

California Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush is currently heading a team of American officials who are examining the records of European firms that allegedly reneged on insurance money owed to survivors.