TOMS RIVER, N.J., March 14 -- Ocean County issued the following news release:
Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari has asked Gov. Chris Christie to impose a 30-day deadline for insurance companies to act on claims filed by super storm Sandy victims.
"It has been nearly five months since this monster storm devastated our communities and there is no reason while our working-class families and small business owners should have to continue to wait for their insurance settlements," Vicari said.
Vicari said 30 days is a reasonable amount of time to process an insurance claim.
"Many families remain living in motels, rentals or with family while their primary residences wait for repairs. I have also heard reports from contractors who are ready to do the work and are only awaiting payment - payment that can't be made until insurance claims are settled," Vicari said in the letter.
Claim delays are also threatening the upcoming tourist season, he said.
"As spring approaches with Memorial Day on the horizon, our tourism community is understandably concerned about the upcoming season," Vicari said. "Uncounted rental homes remain uninhabitable and will have a negative trickle-down effect on other businesses. If families cannot come down and stay at the Shore, they also won't be visiting local stores, restaurants and attractions."
He called on Christie to instruct state Insurance and Banking Commissioner Kenneth Kobylowski to do whatever possible to speed up the process and "light a fire" under those firms that still refuse to pay victims.
Vicari said the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs has been working with storm victims who have not yet received their insurance claims.
"We are doing everything we can in Ocean County to help our seniors, our working families and our small business owners who continue to suffer terribly from the aftermath of this storm," said Vicari, who serves as liaison to both the Tourism Advisory Council and the Ocean County Department of Consumer Affairs. "We are now calling on the state to apply more pressure to these big-business insurance companies that fail to meet their obligations."
Vicari said he has met personally with many storm victims who have pleaded with insurance companies for the money they need to rebuild their homes and small businesses.
"These people have paid their premiums for years. They have met their obligation. Now its time for these insurance companies to do the same."
TNS rk-130315-4246977 StaffFurigay