Losses from previous storms are helping to drive up New Jersey's auto insurance rates, which are already the highest in the nation.
The Record newspaper reports the state approved increases for 26 insurance companies this year, including top insurers Allstate, New Jersey Manufacturers and State Farm.
The insurers say they are covering costs associated with Tropical Storm Irene and a Halloween nor'easter from two years ago. They also are facing higher medical costs and other financial factors.
Consumer Federation of America insurance director J. Robert Hunter tells the newspaper he doesn't expect more than a 1 percent increase for New Jersey motorists from Sandy but that some insurers could play up Superstorm Sandy losses in the coming months in an attempt to get more hikes.
"They take advantage of these situations," he told the paper. "They try to slip [increases] through, using that as cover. It requires vigilance on the part of insurance departments to make sure these [requests] are really justified."
The association says the average auto insurance policy in New Jersey costs $1,157.30.