We may want our churches to be open and welcoming but that may leave them open and vulnerable, warns a specialist insurance broker.
‘Church Insurance is often misunderstood – it’s about so much more than just cover for buildings and contents,’ said Nick Day, of CRE exhibitor UK Church Insurance. ‘Churches face a whole host of complex issues arising from a desire to be open, welcoming and serving their communities through a diverse range of activities and ministries. One such issue, and it doesn’t make easy reading, is that of safeguarding – not just of children but anyone who might become vulnerable.
‘While policies and procedures are designed to protect the church and those in its care, we know that in the Diocese of Chichester an interim enquiry into abuse by church leaders found Sussex had an appalling history spanning two decades – thought to be the worst of any in the country.’
Claims don’t arise solely as a result of inappropriate behaviour of leaders. Churches can be just as exposed to the average church attendee.
‘After all, do we vet and monitor everyone who walks through your door even before a DBS check would normally become necessary?’ asked Nick.
The reassuring news is that many Church Insurance policies provide cover for the church and its officers when defending claims for any form of abuse. However, insurers differ in the way they’re covering churches for these and, indeed, some other types of claim.
‘There’s a real danger that, due to inadequate advice, churches are losing vital protection when they switch policies or are missing one small but necessary feature,’ warned Nick. ‘Abuse is an unfortunate threat that churches face but they can insure for it. UK Church Insurance is one of the few companies that firmly understands this area of church risk and can offer expert advice to ensure churches have the peace of mind correct, robust cover brings.’