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FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS

This is not business as usual

7 April 2020

It’s not usual when a town is hit with 1.1m of rain in one week.

It’s not usual when over 3,000 homes are damaged by water.

It’s not usual when the SES fields over 1,000 calls in just 24 hours.

It’s not usual when over 1,000 people are seek refuge in evacuation centres.

When a natural disaster strikes, like it did in Townsville on 4 February 2019, Suncorp takes extraordinary measures to ensure we’re there to help those in need. This means we move some of our employees from their usual jobs and mobilise them as members of our ‘Customer Support Team’, because that’s the Suncorp spirit.

“When a natural disaster like the Townsville floods happens, as a member of the Customer Support Team we are asked to go on standby and confirm our immediate availability for deployment.  Depending on what’s happened, we may only have an hour’s notice before we fly out. Our everyday job goes on hold” Barb Irwin – Motor, Property & Specialty Claims

“Getting in as soon as it’s safe is really important. Our role is to help customers with their claim and start that recovery process. It can be challenging emotionally but we do it because we want to help our customers to get back on their feet as soon as possible. ”- Barb Irwin - Motor, Property & Specialty Claims

“It can be confronting depending on the type of natural disaster. Each one is different and has its own unique challenges. As a member of the Customer Support Team we receive training each year, which helps us support customers who are really doing it tough. It helps us to be prepared both physically and emotionally.” – Katie Griffiths - Motor, Property & Specialty Claims

"I remember my taxi driver from Townsville airport started telling me about the areas that had been affected the worst, like Idalia due to the Ross River being situated close by. As we were driving on the roads you could see nearly every house on the drive there had all their flood affected furniture on the side of the road for pick up, mud was everywhere, shops had been shut down.” – Katie Griffiths Motor, Property & Specialty Claims

“There was usually a line of people waiting out the door to see us and other support services in the Community Recovery Centre. We would have anywhere between three to seven laptops set up across the desk all staffed, and a seating area for anyone we couldn’t speak with straight away.

"The role is extremely different to my day job - dealing with severe weather events and customers face to face. Many people have lost everything.” – Katie Griffiths - Motor, Property & Specialty Claims

“You need to go into it with an open mind. A lot of people are upset and angry for what has happened, but it’s never directed at you. Being there after a disaster is confronting, people have lost homes, cars, family heirlooms, it’s an emotional rollercoaster for the whole community. You need to prepare yourself mentally by being well rested and know the team deployed with you will support each other and assist every customer as much as we can.” - Barb Irwin -  Motor, Property & Specialty Claims

“Having someone on the ground helps our customers greatly and it builds trust knowing we’re there for them. In Townsville there was a shortage of accommodation, hire cars, everything, so coming up with solutions was really important. It was a real challenge.”– Katie Griffiths - Motor, Property & Specialty Claims

How communities stick together and help each other out - that’s definitely what sticks with you!

If we can help anyone we will.” – Barb Irwin - Motor, Property & Specialty Claims

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