Queensland floods study: Stress levels rise as water levels subside

By Chris Dougherty, General Manager, Westlawn Insurance
23 June 2015

Recent research conducted by Queensland University of Technology has thrown up some surprising results: stress levels rise as water levels subside.

The research, conducted by Kelly Dixon of the university’s School of Psychology and Counselling, examined the mental health impacts caused by both the 2011 Brisbane and 2008 Mackay flood disasters.

Ms Dixon presented her research – Flood aftermath linked to post-traumatic stress – at the Australian and New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference on the Gold Coast last month.

She told the conference that while the floods were frightening on the day, the most difficult aspect for many people was the aftermath including the clean-up, the re-building process and dealing with insurance companies.

As part of the research, more than 150 flood victims were surveyed 7 to 9 months after the 2011 Brisbane flood and 3 and a half years after the 2008 Mackay flood.

Speaking about the research, Ms Dixon said: “Aftermath stress was the strongest predictor of post-traumatic stress symptoms with 75% of flood victims saying the most difficult aspect was the aftermath and dealing with insurance companies.

“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.

“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,” she said.

According to the study, the time it took to repair homes was one of the strongest predictors of depression.

“Rebuilding from a natural disaster can take months or even years and disaster victims may feel increasingly reluctant to ask for help as time goes on,” she said.

Insurance brokers help reduce claims stress

The Queensland University of Technology’s research further highlights the critical role of qualified insurance brokers in helping families and businesses protect their assets from natural disasters such as floods and fire.

Firstly, a qualified insurance broker can help find the right insurance policy. They have the knowledge and expertise to understand your policy, including the fine print, and to explain it to you in plain language. This provides you with the peace of mind knowing you have the right insurance cover in place should the unexpected occur.

Your insurance broker will also support you when you need them most – when you need to make a claim. They are your advocate and will liaise with the insurance company on your behalf throughout your claim. Insurance brokers understand the claims process and will help make any claim as stress-free as possible for you and your family.

To reduce the stress of making an insurance claim, contact a Westlawn Insurance Broker today.

Further reading

10 tips for choosing home insurance

Advice vs Price: Bushfire victims experience true value of a broker

Natural disasters expose shortfalls in many Australians’ home insurance

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