Churches are best known as places of worship but they also play a key role in the community and in championing social action. With all these pressures on the people running them, ensuring that there is adequate protection for all these activities can sometimes be a challenge.
Churches can be protected and insured like any other not for profit organisation, though there are some specific risks that churches and similar places of worship should be aware of. As with all organisations, risk management is the fundamental and first step towards protecting your church. You should initially carry out risk assessments for all your premises and regular activities, paying attention to any church-specific risks or vulnerable service users that may need extra consideration.
Once you have completed risk assessments, you should seek to mitigate or remove the risks you have identified. For example, if you have torn carpets, you should have these repaired or replaced as soon as is reasonably possible to avoid trips and injuries.
Despite your best efforts at risk management, it is impossible to completely remove all risk to your church, clergy and staff, congregation and members of the public. This is where insurance becomes a useful tool for managing the financial impact of anything going wrong.
If you have employees, or if your clergy is employed by your church, you are required to have Employers’ Liability. You may also wish to ensure that your volunteers are specifically covered under your Employers’ Liability section, rather than your Public Liability. If you own and/or operate any motor vehicles on public roads, you must insure them too.
As a ‘hub’ for the community – as well as a place of worship for your congregation – churches often have large footfall and plenty of members of the public passing though. Churches should strongly consider public liability insurance to protect themselves in the event of a claim arising from a member of the public or one of their worshippers.
Churches often hire out or provide their church halls and other facilities to groups and organisations. Generally, named organisations that hire your facilities should have their own insurance in place, however, some smaller groups or meetings may not have. It is important to keep your insurer informed about who uses your facilities and their insurance arrangements to avoid surprises I the event of a claim.
Protecting the church building itself is also a vital consideration. Your church may also have special and valuable features, such as stained glass windows and lead roof tiles, that may require specialist insurance. Church contents may also be of high monetary or religious value and thus comprehensive contents cover is key. Ensure that your religious artefacts, texts and other important items are covered. If your church is regularly open to the public, you should seek cover for ‘walk-in theft’, otherwise you may only be able to claim for theft if there has been a break-in (‘forcible entry’).
In terms of your building, contents and religious artefacts, it is important that churches have thorough and specialist valuations to avoid under-insurance.
This is just an initial introduction to church insurance and there may be other areas of cover that you should consider. You can read more about CaSE Insurance’s specialist church insurance or contact us more information about church risk management and insurance.