Homeowner satisfaction and service quality in the repair of UK flood-damaged domestic property
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
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Flooding is a global challenge that has plagued mankind throughout history, affecting over 164 million people worldwide in 2007 alone. As the frequency of flooding increases in England and Wales coupled with an increase in the number of properties at risk of flooding and the attendant huge (insured) economic costs of flooding, the services received by homeowners during flood damage repair works, have not been spared criticism, Both the Welsh Consumer Council report and the Warwickshire Trading Standards report raised serious questions about the level of service in insurance claims for the repair of flood-damaged domestic property. This research project was therefore aimed at investigating the level of service quality and determinants of homeowners’ satisfaction in England and Wales with respect to flood damage repair works during insurance claims. A comprehensive literature review was conducted on customers’ needs, satisfaction and service quality, flooding and related issues, and the repair of flood damaged domestic property, in order to set the framework for the research and shape the development of the research questions/hypotheses. The study employed a two-phased sequential mixed methods approach, commencing with 20 in-depth interviews with homeowners, repairers, insurers and loss adjusters. Findings from the initial exploratory study (and from the literature review) informed the development of a questionnaire instrument, which incorporated elements of SERVQUAL, the generic service quality measurement instrument. Survey data were collected for the quantitative phase of the study from a sample of 126 homeowners, which was then analysed to test the hypotheses put forward in the study. The data did not yield a set of reliable and interpretable factors of service quality from the three service quality scales used to measure homeowners’ perceptions of the performance of insurers, loss adjusters and contractors. However, of the three key service providers, the contractor’s performance was the best predictor of homeowners’ overall satisfaction during flood damage reinstatement claims, accounting for seven times the combined unique contribution of insurance and loss adjusting firms. In addition, satisfaction levels were significantly different for homeowners whose claims for repair works were completed within six months compared to those repairs exceeded twelve months. The thesis concludes with implications of the findings for practice as well as recommendations for further research. It is argued that knowledge of the determinants of homeowners’ satisfaction with services during the repair of flood damaged property, is beneficial not only to insurers, loss adjusters and repairers but to homeowners as well.