Armenians, Life Insurance Company Settle on 1915 Policies

Voice of America
Jan 26 2005

Armenians, Life Insurance Company Settle on 1915 Policies

By Barbara Schoetzau
New York

Five New York area Armenian charities are splitting $3 million with
four Armenian groups in Los Angeles as a result of a $20 million
settlement between the New York Life Insurance Company and
descendants of Armenians killed in the Turkish Ottoman Empire 90
years ago.

Each of the charities received $333.333. The rest of the money will
be split among potential heirs and beneficiaries of the 2,300 life
insurance policies New York Life sold to Armenians living in the
Ottoman Empire prior to 1915.

Armenians say more than 1.5 million Armenians were killed in the
waning days of the Ottoman Empire from 1915 until 1919. They call it
a genocide, but Turkey rejects the claim saying the numbers have been

Three lawyers of Armenian background filed the class action lawsuit
in 1999, contending that New York Life never compensated the families
of those who bought policies. New York Life researched the issue and
found 2,300 unpaid policies. Lawyer Brian Kabateck, says the
particular charities were chosen because of their efforts to help
Armenians who fled to the United States from the Ottoman Empire in

“The reason $3 million is being distributed immediately to charities
is that a number of organizations that involve helping Armenians were
selected because a number of families completely perished in the
genocide and left no survivors,” he said. “As a result of that, the
money that is being distributed today is symbolic of money for
charities and for charitable organizations.”

The charities must use the money for educational and cultural
purposes or to help needy Armenians in the United States and abroad.
Descendants of survivors have until March 16 to file claims. They can
find information on the website armenian insurance
Mr.Kabateck says many of the beneficiaries do not live in the United

“We have taken a substantial effort to publicize in other centers of
the world where Armenians have large populations: Russia, of course,
Armenia. We have had people in Armenia giving press conferences and
talking to people over there and making lists available in rural
parts of Armenia. [In] Argentina, there is a very large Armenian
population. France, in Marseilles there is a large population,” he

Mr. Kabateck says the lawyers are now trying to reach a settlement
with two other insurance companies, but he would not divulge their