Victims of floods which devastated Brisbane in 2011 and Mackay in 2008 found dealing with their insurers the most stressful part of dealing with the aftermath of the disaster, a new study has revealed.
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) School of Psychology and Counselling has surveyed more than 150 flood victims from the region for its latest study and has found that the claims handling of insurers left many victims feeling worse.
"Victims' biggest complaints and stressors were around insurance company staff giving conflicting information, delays in assessing claims, not covering flooding, or not being adequately compensated for losses,” Kelly Dixon, from QUT’s School of Psychology and Counselling said of the study.
"Aftermath stress was the strongest predictor of post-traumatic stress symptoms with 75 per cent of people saying the most difficult aspect was the aftermath and dealing with insurance companies.
"The findings showed that aftermath stress contributed to poor mental health outcomes over and above the flood itself, prior mental health issues and demographic factors," Dixon continued.
Dixon noted that those that dealt with helpful insurers found the aftermath of the disaster less stressful when compared with those who had insurance struggles.
"For example, people who found their insurance company to be helpful, described less stress overall, whereas those who had difficulty with the insurance process were more likely to describe the flood aftermath period as extremely stressful.”
Dixon noted that by streamlining procedures and processes, insurers could help their customers deal with traumatic events such as flooding and help set them on the road to recovery.
"What this shows is insurance companies need to look at ways to reduce undue stress, such as by streamlining their procedures, training staff in these procedures and providing claimants with clear, easy to following instructions on how to make their claim."