’Respondents could recall at least one traumatic claim that has stayed with them,’ says member 

The majority of claims handlers are experiencing “second-hand trauma” when dealing with distressing claims.

That was according to the Chartered Insurance Institute New Generation Programme Claims group, which highlighted that 86% reported experiencing negative emotions when dealing with traumatic cases.

This includes guilt, sadness, panic, anxiety and personal triggers.

Respondents reported that the features that made claims particularly distressing included loss, physical or mental suffering and life changing injuries. 

They were found to be negatively affected by handling these claims both inside and outside the workplace, with 20% reportedly considering a career change based on their experiences.

The data was published in the CII’s Traumatic and distressing claims: Do they impact claims professionals?, which was published on 7 February 2024.

The study gathered quantitative and qualitative data from more than 200 claims handlers.

Ashton West, chair of the CII claims community board, said: “The mental health implications of working with these kinds of cases is often overlooked and not discussed enough within our profession.

”It’s vital for us to further our understanding and create a more informed workplace so that we can offer our colleagues the necessary support when dealing with traumatic cases.”

’Change the narrative’

However, only one in five (22%) respondents said their employer had taken steps to ”identify, prevent or manage instances where second-hand trauma could arise”.

And more than half (56%) answered ”no” when asked if they felt comfortable disclosing to their employer that they suffered from stress or mental health problems from handling distressing claims.

The CII has now set out a series of recommendations for employers, such as encouraging employees to talk about their claims with colleagues, managers or counsellors.

Shauna Hopkins, a member of the 2022/23 CII New Gen Claims group, said: “This subject has touched the hearts of many people with whom we have spoken. Most of our survey respondents could recall at least one traumatic claim that has stayed with them, but many of them have been discouraged from sharing the impact of those events.

”We want to help change the narrative by encouraging claims handlers to talk about their experiences. It is vital that insurers start to recognise the impact of handling traumatic claims and be proactive in supporting their colleagues in order to protect and retain these frontline staff.”