Insurer urges flood-stricken farmers to access mental health support

Insurer urges flood-stricken farmers to access mental health support | Insurance Business New Zealand

Insurer urges flood-stricken farmers to access mental health support

Vero has urged flood-stricken Canterbury farmers to make use of the mental health benefits on its rural policies, and said the impact of the “large scale” flooding event has been significant for rural customers.

Vero executive manager SME and rural insurance Chris Brophy said that Vero has now received 350 claims for the event, and is expecting to see more over the coming weeks. He said the rural community is now under increased mental and financial stress, and is at greater risk of depression, anxiety and burnout.

He urged affected customers to make use of Vero’s Mental Health Navigator, which comes with all Vero rural policies and offers remote mental health consultations.

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“We know that for our rural customers, this is their livelihood and that causes a lot of uncertainty and stress,” he said.

“We included Best Doctors as a rural benefit to our customers about five years ago, and that was introduced as an additional benefit without any extra costs to them.”

“Because of the remoteness of people in rural areas, it’s more difficult for them to get into town to see specialists,” he explained.

“The benefit was initially for medical issues, but we added in the Mental Health Navigator as an additional benefit around three years ago. This has been really well received with the normal stressors that farmers face such as droughts, financial pressures and remoteness.”

To access the benefit, Vero customers can ring an 0800 number and get connected with a mental health nurse by a phone or video call, and the process ultimately offers a diagnosis and suggestions for treatment.

Brophy noted that it is also completely confidential, with Vero itself having no access to names or uptake figures.

Read more: Canterbury flooding insurance costs continue to mount

“Best Doctors gathers the customer’s medical history and puts together a clinical summary, and they can match the customer with the right sort of expert, whether that is a psychologist or a psychiatrist. They can then assess their condition, and the mental health nurse will come back, discuss the expert’s findings and outline the best diagnosis and treatment options going forward,” Brophy said.

“We support the start of that journey until it’s enhanced, but we don’t know who is using it, so the service is completely anonymous.”

“It’s great because it provides that immediate connection to someone who can help, and a diagnosis can happen without going through the public system,” he added.

“They can also do it from home, they don’t have to travel two hours into town, which can often just add to the stress.

“It’s been really well received so far, and the fact that it’s anonymous has also been welcomed.”