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NJ Insurance Regulator Gets Out-of-State Aid on Sandy

New Jersey’s insurance watchdog will receive assistance from regulators in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska as policyholders in the state seek assistance dealing with their carriers after suffering damage in superstorm Sandy.

Volunteers from the other states will staff a call center in Kansas City, Missouri, responding to inquiries from New Jersey residents and collecting claims information, according to a statement today from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

“If it turns out that the volume of calls coming in exceeds the number of representatives that we have at our call center, the overflow will go out to the NAIC,” Marshall McKnight, a spokesman for the New Jersey regulator, said by phone.

The storm knocked out power to businesses, displaced residents from their homes and caused as much as $25 billion in insured damage nationwide, with New Jersey and New York among the hardest hit states. New Jersey may release a preliminary tally of damage from last month’s storm as soon as next week, Governor Chris Christie said Nov. 13.

The New Jersey regulator has received about 400 calls from Sandy, which made landfall on Oct. 29, and the number will rise as residents return to their homes, McKnight said.

The storm has pressured the state government, and may have hurt October and November revenue, casting doubt on a planned tax cut, the governor has said. Regulators whose states were spared damage are prepared to help other watchdogs, as they did after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, according to Kevin McCarty, president of the NAIC.

The effort will “allow us to centralize and maximize our ability to promptly assist consumers,” McCarty said in the statement. “Our successful coordinated efforts following Hurricane Katrina demonstrated our readiness for recovery.”

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