NU Online News Service, Sept. 14, 3:33 p.m. – Insurance departments are putting consumer information hotlines in place to respond to questions regarding the World Trade Center catastrophe.

The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance is establishing a consumer call center that should be fully operational Monday, according to department spokesman Peter Hartt.

This afternoon, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo., was meeting to determine whether it should hold its fall meeting in Boston, and to discuss employee issues including an update on employees at its Securities Valuation Office operation, according to Heidi Robertson, an NAIC spokeswoman.

Robertson says all SVO employees were evacuated from World Trade Center Building 7 after Tower number 1, the North Tower, was hit by a hijacked plane on Sept. 11. However, she adds, there were several tense hours, because it was not until 6:30 p.m. that evening that the NAIC was able to account for all SVO staff to confirm that they were safe, according to Robertson. Building 7 collapsed at 5:20 p.m. Sept. 11.

Hartt says that all New Jersey banking and insurance department staff are safe.

He anticipates that calls to the department will pick up. “In the early days [of a disaster], people are concerned with rescue efforts or dealing with grief and the shock of it all.” As days go on, they turn their attention to financial services matters, he says.

The industry, according to Hartt, has been “very forthcoming and appears sincerely interested in making it as easy as possible for customers whether it be a matter of interim payments or an intent to honor claims without issues of exemption.”

Specifics such as whether a claim will be paid if there is no body and privacy issues arising from putting a policyholder name on a Web site to locate beneficiaries are still being worked out, according to Hartt.