27 February 2015
The church leader's toolkit: insurance
It is hard to know where to start when writing an article about insurance, because it is such a wide subject with many related issues. I will hopefully write in a relevant manner with knowledge gained from visiting many hundreds of churches and chapels over the past 25 years, and now looking after almost 2,000 places of worship for their insurance needs.
The basic insurance requirements for churches to consider include the buildings, contents, items taken outside, potential legal liability to members of the public, employees and volunteers, cover for trustees and officers, publisher's indemnity, money, loss of hiring or rental income, and legal protection.
The good news is that specialist church insurers are on hand to cover these for you, such as Ecclesiastical, Congregational &General and Ansvar. These firms offer bespoke church policies and a package of covers that are ideal for churches. The church does of course still need to decide what sums insured are required, though.
If you have a lift or stairlift, run a night shelter, mission trip overseas, or your premise becomes unoccupied, a statutory inspection maybe required.
Most church claims are weather-related: storm damage, burst pipes and flood. Theft is the next most common cause, with the recent trend of roof tiles being stolen for their lead. Fire, often caused by electrical issues, is the third most common claim.
Malicious damage claims are also common, usually broken windows. Liability claims are on the increase in these litigious times, for example, trips and falls. It is important for a church to consider the risks, and I would commend a very informative website to you – www.spow.co.uk. Each church should carry out its own fire risk assessment and also separate assessments for various activities taking place, either within or outside of their premises. Health and safety issues can't be ignored, but this is something many, including our company, can give you advice with.
It would be inappropriate to complete this article without making some reference to the "abuse" issue, which is so prevalent at this time. Liability is provided by the insurers mentioned above, although you must remember that any potential claim should be directed to the insurer in place at the time the alleged abuse occurred. Some non-specialist church insurers do not include abuse cover, so watch out.
Do visit our site if you'd like some further advice.
David Edwards ACII CIB
Managing Director, Edwards Insurance Brokers www.edwardsinsurance.co.uk