Last updated 16th June 2017
Ecclesiastical Indurance have provided a list in order of the ten top insurance claims (volume) from churches across the country including a brief summary and some tips on how to avoid them.
You can’t change the weather, but good building maintenance helps minimise storm damage. Falling trees can damage your own or neighbouring property and cause injury to people, so keep trees trimmed. Securing doors, windows and loose objects will also prevent problems in high winds. If there is flood risk, get as much above the anticipated flood level as you can do safely.
Accidents will happen, so there’s a limit to how much you can manage this risk. Common sense and risk assessments are your most effective weapons.
Theft of metal
Figures for metal theft are decreasing but still ten churches a week are falling victim. Apply SmartWater, or a suitable alternative approved by us, check your kit is registered and display your signage prominently. Engage the local community in watching the church and consider fitting a roof alarm.
Burglary and theft
Burglary involves forced entry committed by determined thieves, so deterring them may prove tricky. Stout locks, intruder alarms and good external lighting will help. Theft does not involve a forcible entry and is often opportunistic. Removing valuables from sight will reduce temptation to the opportunistic thief and reduce what is taken during a burglary.
Putting arson to one side – that’s number 14 on our list – malicious damage is vandalism. Unoccupied buildings are particularly vulnerable so they need to be secured with good fencing, strong locks, intruder alarms and exterior lighting.
Impact damage to property
This is usually the result of a vehicle striking the church’s boundary wall. If you allow cars into your grounds, ensure the entry is wide enough and gates can be secured in the open position. If you allow parking beside the church, you can fit stop kerbs to prevent contact with the church’s wall.
Escape of water
Water escaping from burst pipes can do immense damage to the fabric of a church. Before cold weather sets in, check pipe insulation and ensure people know where to locate the church’s stopcock. Boilers should be fitted with frost stats to switch the heating on if the temperature falls to freezing
With up to one million volts of electricity in a single bolt, lightning has the power to destroy masonry, start fires and burn out electrical systems. Tall buildings, such as churches, attract lightning and a well-maintained lightning conductor is the best defence.
Damage to underground services
Tree roots and soil movement can damage underground pipes and cables. If have a problem, contact our claims team who can refer you to a specialist contractor. If you have it, they should be provided with a plan of where pipes and cables are located.
Slips and trips
This is increasingly common and although the injury may be minor, it can lead to an expensive claim. Conduct a thorough risk assessment and carry out any resulting actions – for example, putting up a handrail. The risk assessment must be documented and stored where it can be located if needed in defending a claim.
It may come as a surprise that fire and flood do not feature in this top ten. These events are actually less common – but when they happen damage is usually severe and costly.
NBFor all matters relating to church insurance we recommend visiting the Ecclesiastical website.
NB Other insurance brokers/companies are available.