Claims handlers and loss adjusters are suffering from severe stress because of lack of resources and an "aggressive consumer environment", according to a report published this week.

According to the study, commissioned by the Society of Claims Technicians (SCT), over half of the claims industry's technicians feel the public have become less reasonable.

The report said 66% of claims handlers feel that claimants become angry when questioned about their claim. Over a third said policyholders become unreasonably angry during the claims process.

Despite their growing unease working in the sector, the study found a fifth of SCT members felt that many claimants exaggerate claims. The public's growing expectations, fuelled by television programmes like Watchdog, have meant consumers are increasingly prepared to fabricate claims, the SCT said.

Society of Claims Technicians chairman Bev FitzGerald said: "These results are mirrored elsewhere in our increasingly demanding consumer society.

"There is a growing gap between what the public expect and the true position. Our members increasingly find themselves with a very difficult bridging task.

Some critics have said that insurers do not provide enough support for call centre claims handlers.

This exacerbates the problem, they said.