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More Support for Advocacy Services Urgently Needed

17 June 2014

Latest Survey Results Show More Support for Advocacy Services Urgently Needed

A growing number of people seeking independent support to resolve earthquake insurance claims is major concern requiring more focus and funding.

That from Canterbury Insurance Assistance Service (CIAS) Project Facilitator Lorraine Guthrie, as new research from the All Right? campaign reveals significant differences in the wellbeing of Christchurch residents who have had their insurance claims settled and those who haven’t.

CIAS who is currently working with around 80 claimants, has been funded by the Christchurch City Council ($200,000) and Lorraine Guthrie says the stress and strain after more than three years is very evident in the clients they work with.

“Our clients are overwhelmed by the information they have collected and collated over the last few years. They are highly stressed and increasingly vulnerable from financial pressure, and struggle to remain physically well while living in inadequate physical and social conditions which just adds to their stress,” she says.

Ms Guthrie says couples relationships are affected, their capacity to parent their children and to maintain a healthy social life is constantly tested.

“Homeowners with unresolved earthquake insurance claims are burdened down with copious and complex technical reports and a myriad of inconsistent explanations around delays amid pressure to make decisions based on information they can no longer make sense of,” she says.

CIAS provides a support service where claimants can be assisted to progress their claims, walking alongside a project facilitator.

“At this point, three and a half years on, homeowners need a reliable, caring and knowledgeable insurance advocate to help them make sense of the information, develop a progress plan and make that progress, a step at the time,” she says. “Many of the clients we see have lost trust and confidence in virtually everyone. We work hard to get that back so we can move forward with them to assist in getting their claims resolved fairly. CIAS has no limitation on the length of time a case facilitator will spend with a client.”

Mike Coleman, chairperson of CIAS, is pleased the services of CIAS are reaching the most vulnerable Cantabrians and is appreciative of Christchurch City Council’s financial support to get the community driven charitable Trust established.

“The All Right? stats show how much of a negative part the delays and lack of resolution around insurance and EQC claims are playing in Cantabrians lives. And it’s really important that as the city and communities rebuild, we can all celebrate those milestones and share in the progress. Unfortunately if you are no further forward from an insurance or EQC perspective, it’s really hard to join in the celebration and that’s another reason why getting these claims resolved should be absolute priority for everyone,” he says.

Outcomes for CIAS clients are increasingly positive and Lorraine Guthrie, says as the advocates work with the claimants, people are less defensive, more able to consider options and better prepared, having worked through issues around their insurance claims with a CIAS case facilitator before meeting with EQC or an insurer.

“We can almost see the stress lifting from clients’ shoulders when a case facilitator meets a prospective CIAS client and dates are made to meet with the insurer or EQC. It’s the support and advocacy of a knowledgeable and experienced person that makes all the difference,” she says. “We all want the same thing in the end, no more and no less.”

CIAS welcomes contact from homeowners via www.cias.org.nz

Source: The All Right? project commissioned Opinions Market Research to undertake both qualitative and quantitative research into Cantabrians’ mental health and wellbeing. This involved a telephone survey of a representative sample of 800 residents over February and March 2014. The findings have been compared with research the project undertook in 2012.

ENDS

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