Expected rise in earthquake stress claims fails to materialise

Three of the country’s largest insurers have yet to see any rise in stress-related claims from Christchurch, despite a counselling group in the city reporting a 100% rise in people seeking stress-related treatment.

Friday, February 24th 2012, 6:20AM

Christchurch councillors the Durham Centre said that since the first large earthquake in September they have seen a 100% increase in people needing treatment for stress-related issues.

However, none of the insurance companies Good Returns spoke to had seen any rise in stress-related insurance claims.

"There's been no increase in claims due to stress, and we've been a little but surprised by that as well," said OnePath adviser distribution general manager Jeremy Nicoll.

"The usual cycle is six months or so after a massive or traumatic event like that you'd expect to see a spike and we haven't seen that spike, my understanding is that there is no spike across the rest of the insurance companies."

Nicoll's view was confirmed by both Sovereign corporate communications manager Emily Hanna and AMP external relations manager Veronica Ruddenklau.

"I've checked with our claims team and Sovereign hasn't seen a spike in the post-traumatic stress claims," said Hanna.

Ruddenklau confirmed the same picture at AMP, adding that "despite expecting them and watching closely for them [there has been] no increase in these claims."

Nicoll also cited New Zealand's poor take-up of income protection insurance for the lower than expected number of overall Christchurch-related claims, though he did warn the situation could change.

"Post-traumatic stress disorder can occur at any time, so the earthquake was 12 months ago but people can still be about to go through a very difficult period of time, and that's something our advisers' cannot lose sight of."

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