National Assoc. of Insurance Commissioners staff, state regulators send support to Puerto Rico office
SAN JUAN —The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) said Monday that it has been sending staff and that 10 state insurance departments have sent regulators to support the Office of the Insurance Commissioner of Puerto Rico.
According to the NAIC, it set up a call center in its Central Office in Kansas City, Mo., shortly after Hurricane Maria hit the island to assist with communications to consumers and insurers. Since January, the association says, more than 20 state insurance regulators have traveled to the island to assist the Puerto Rico department, “fielding consumer inquiries, tracking complaints and helping the department with the high volume of traffic.”
“NAIC leadership received calls from state insurance regulators asking how they could help their colleagues in Puerto Rico even before the first hurricane made landfall,” said Julie Mix McPeak, NAIC president and Tennessee Commissioner of Commerce and Insurance. “Since the devastation, Puerto Rico has remained in the hearts of many and will have the ongoing support of state insurance regulators who are committed to helping the Puerto Rico insurance department assist residents during these recovery efforts.”
States that have sent staff to Puerto Rico include Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Utah and West Virginia. The NAIC has also sent staff to provide user support for State Based Systems (SBS), a web-based application used to support regulatory functions. NAIC Data Reporting Analyst Julio Lara was among the staff who volunteered to assist in Puerto Rico, as well as to serve as staff support in the call center.
“Coming face to face with the devastation after hearing stories over the phone is really humbling,” Lara says in an NAIC release. “I do not recall a day on the phones when I didn’t get multiple thank yous and blessings from the consumers for the assistance we were providing. Seeing the needs of insurance consumers in Puerto Rico reminded me how important our jobs really are.”
The NAIC said it and state insurance departments “will continue to provide support to the territory as long as it’s needed.”