Insurance woes the biggest stress factor

Last updated 12:20 18/03/2014
Roger Sutton March 2014
Dean Kozanic

CANTERBURY STRESS: Cera boss Roger Sutton speaks to the news media about the wellbeing survey released today.

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Insurance woes and living in a damaged environment are biggest causes of stress for earthquake-affected Cantabrians, new survey data reveals.

Those twin concerns have replaced aftershocks as the main cause of stress.

The results of the third Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) wellbeing survey released today showed ''secondary stressors'' were now more keenly felt.

The survey was conducted for Cera by Nielsen Research between August and October 2013, with 2476 residents selected randomly from the electoral roll in Christchurch city, Selwyn and Waimakariri.

Overall, three quarters of those surveyed rated the quality of their life positively. This was slightly lower than results in April 2013 but similar to September 2012.

About 6 per cent continue to rate their quality of life poorly.

In September 2012, 54 per cent said their quality of life had decreased since the quakes, while only 6 per cent felt their quality of life had improved.

In April 2013, 25 per cent believed that their quality of life had deteriorated in the year prior, while 19 per cent indicated there had been an improvement in their quality of life.

Almost four in five residents (78 per cent) had experienced stress at least some times in the past 12 months. Two in 10 (22 per cent) indicated they had been living with stress that had a negative effect on their lives most or all of the time in the past year.

This proportion is relatively unchanged since September 2012.

Cera chief executive Roger Sutton said while most respondents acknowledged areas of their lives were still affected by the quakes, the focus had changed.

''We used to hear about the anxiety people felt about aftershocks, dealing with frightened children and work safety concerns," he said.

''Those stressors are being replaced with frustrations about traffic, and other work-related issues.''

Pressure around EQC and insurer issues continued for many people, but had improved since September 2012, Sutton said.

The range of factors noted by those who said their stress was Earthquake Commission (EQC) and insurance related included a long repair process, personal inconvenience, emotional fallout and lack of information.

The Government has commissioned work to ''identify blockages that are causing the on-going stress in the community'', Sutton said.

''All of the groups involved are keenly working together but, parallel to that, I expect to see EQC and insurers continuing to strengthen their own processes to minimise the stress on residents and deliver on their forecast deadlines.''

The survey showed those living in Selwyn were significantly more likely to rate their quality of life positively than those living in either Christchurch city or Waimakariri.

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