October 30, 2012
WEST TRENTON, NJ — Claims reports are pouring into New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company (NJM) Tuesday morning, in the aftermath of Sandy. NJM is the third-largest Homeowners insurer in New Jersey (approximately 290,000 dwellings) and the largest Personal Auto insurance company (about 800,000 cars).
As of mid-morning on Tuesday, NJM had already received thousands of calls reporting damage connected to Sandy, with numbers continuing to escalate throughout the day. By comparison, NJM received about the same number of calls by mid-morning on the day after Tropical Storm Irene made landfall in August 2011. Though it's too early to predict what will happen as the result of Sandy, NJM ended up settling over 22,000 claims as the result of Irene.
The majority of these calls involved losses to homes as opposed to autos. About 98% of NJM policyholders are in New Jersey, with the rest in Pennsylvania. More calls are anticipated as homeowners who were evacuated, or who have summer homes along the Shore, become able to assess their homes for damage. Typically, the third day after a major storm is when claims volume hits its crescendo, but reports are expected for weeks afterward.
NJM activated its Catastrophe Response Plan earlier this week while Sandy was approaching, to prepare staff and resources to meet the service needs of policyholders. Based on that plan, only essential staff connected with processing claims or providing direct support reported for work on Tuesday, October 30. NJM’s West Trenton and Parsippany offices opened under generator power Tuesday morning, while electric service had been restored to the Hammonton branch.
"Our employees deserve commendation, with many staffers coming in to respond to policyholder needs even when they themselves have suffered damage at home or have no electric power,” said Bernard M. Flynn, NJM's President and CEO. "Sandy was a huge storm not typically seen in New Jersey, with significant losses."
"Most importantly, we ask our policyholders to continue exercising caution, to please protect their families, and be careful when inspecting their homes for damage. We are ready to take their claims calls and respond promptly."
NJM always provides 24-hour service for taking claims by telephone, but the staff was expanded substantially by Tuesday in reaction to the storm. Starting at 7 a.m., 400-plus NJM General Claims employees were called in, and a back-up team of emergency representatives in Florida and Kentucky was enlisted to ensure prompt response to the needs of policyholders.
During the course of this week, NJM is deploying a team of 300 specially trained representatives to help adjust these claims – evaluating the losses and visiting claims locations if necessary.
NJM's 24-hour claims number is 1-800-367-6564. Policyholders should collect as much information about their damage as possible before calling.
Policyholders are encouraged to protect their properties from further damage once a loss occurs. The cost of these steps is covered by homeowners insurance when the cause of loss is a peril insured against.