U.S. asset manager BlackRock Inc is in the running to help state regulators estimate risks in insurers' investments, the Wall Street Journal said, citing regulators and a National Association of Insurance Commissioners official.

The money manager is among the few firms shortlisted by NAIC to analyze the risk in bonds backed by residential mortgages owned by insurers, work that was previously handled by the major ratings firms, the paper said.

The Journal said that according to the proposal, which comes from the American Council of Life Insurers and is expected to pass, NAIC will arrange the contract and work with the analytical firms, with the insurers paying it fees to cover the cost.

The paper cited Chris Evangel, a senior executive at NAIC, as saying that the contract, which will cover work through Dec 31, will provide regulators with the relevant data in insurers' 2009 financial statements.

Evangel said BlackRock and the other three firms have represented that they could meet a deadline of later this year for estimating losses in insurers' residential-mortgage bonds, according to the Journal.

Evangel also stated that regulators would vote later on a plan to address analysis of those holdings in future years, the paper said.

Representatives of BlackRock and the NAIC were not immediately available for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

(Reporting by Biswarup Gooptu in Bangalore; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)