By David Madden

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) – There are still some 20,000 unsettled insurance claims in New Jersey, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy; most of them along the shore.

A new program is aimed at addressing that backlog.

There are few claims still outstanding in South Jersey, but about a fifth of pending cases are in Ocean County, Long Beach Island north, and people can now ask for some help in moving things along.

New Jersey Insurance Commissioner Ken Kobylowski is borrowing an idea that worked well for victims of Hurricane Katrina down in the gulf.

“Policy holders, free of charge to the policy holders, can request a mediation from their insurance company to try and settle their open claim,” says Kobylowski.

A certified expert will try to come up with a number everyone can agree on. If not, either side is free to take the issue to court.

(Ken Kobylowski Credit: Marshall McKnight)

(Ken Kobylowski Credit: Marshall McKnight)

One incentive of coming to an agreement is if someone is looking for any state or federal assistance their insurance claims have to be closed first. That’s the law.

The American Arbitration Association is running the program. People can ask for mediation through their insurance carrier or through the association at or by calling 855-366-9774.