Help, like no-one else. For big-hearted Mandy, being an insurance assessor is much more than a job. It’s personal. She genuinely cares about the people who need her help, which means she’s prepared for the things you can never be prepared for.
Like recently, when she was called on to help an elderly man. “He was cooking chips one night watching the football, forgot his chips were on, burnt the house down and lost everything,” she says.
When she realised the man wasn’t tech-savvy enough to file his claim documents by email, there was only one thing for it: Mandy drove to the nearest town to help him. “I was able to make a payment to him immediately while I was there so that he could get some clothes and toiletries and stuff like that,” she says. “And you know, even to this day, I still drive out there just to have a look and see how his house is going ...
“I do get personally involved, because how can you not, when you’re dealing with somebody who’s lost everything? A lot of people say, you know, it's material, it can be replaced. But that’s their whole life. It can’t be replaced – a lot of sentimental things and stuff like that – regardless of how much money we pay them.”
Mandy spent a lot of time on the phone during the Black Summer bushfires in 2019-20, initiating conversations with distressed customers. Often, she was the first person they had heard from during their ordeal. “As soon as we had a customer list, I was contacting them and organising settlement of the contents insurance immediately,” she says. “It meant at least they had some funds for whatever they required.
“For customers who have lost everything, you’ve got to learn to put yourself in their position and feel what they're going through.”
How a job became a passion
Mandy originally wanted to be a nurse when she left school but wasn’t ready to go to university because she wasn’t quite 18 and didn’t have a driver’s licence. So as a stopgap, she took a job in insurance. That was 26 years ago. “I’ve never looked back,” she says.
After working in motor and property claims,
Mandy eventually became an assessor. And it’s a job that she loves, even if sometimes the circumstances she has to deal with are challenging.
“I just like helping people,” she says. “Helping people gives me a feeling that I’ve achieved something for the day. Not many people have a job where they can go home and say, well, you know, I’ve actually helped somebody out there today.
“It makes you feel good within yourself ... It's not just about helping others; it's actually giving yourself a bit of fulfillment."
Can’t help but help
Realising that she can’t help everyone is something that Mandy has had to learn to deal with in her years as an assessor. The first event she attended – floods in Tasmania – was very challenging, as some customers had opted out of flood coverage.
“It was heartbreaking,” she says. “Though we did organise to have their places cleaned up for them, and the water taken out. We did as much as we could.”
She’s also had to learn that her personal involvement has to stop somewhere. “It is difficult,” she says. “Although I can personally get involved and help as much as I can, there is a line where you’ve got to stop. And that's the hard part.”
Helping is just part of Mandy’s nature. She may not be the nurse she wanted to be as a young girl, but as an insurance assessor she is perfectly placed to reach out to people in crisis.
And she also helps people outside work. “I take in a lot of kids that are struggling with life or haven’t got anywhere to live,” she says. “My family and kids say, ‘You can’t help everybody’. I say, ‘Well, I’ll try’.
“If you can try and help somebody, you know, well, kudos to you, I say. Make a difference in somebody's life.”