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Top 10 most common church insurance claims

Using our latest claims information, here’s a list in order of the ten top insurance claims (volume) from churches across the country. To help your PCC look after your buildings we have put together a brief summary of these claims and some tips on how to avoid them.

  1. Storm damage
    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.

  2. Accidental damage
    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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Malicious damage
    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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. Lightning
    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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

For more information on the risks you need to consider, contact Ecclesiastical’s customer services team on 0345 777 3322.

Ecclesiastical Insurance Group plc (EIG) Reg No 1718196. Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc (EIO) Reg No 24869. Ecclesiastical Life Ltd (ELL) Reg No 243111. Ecclesiastical Financial Advisory Services Ltd (EFAS) Reg No 2046087. Ecclesiastical Underwriting Management Ltd (EUML) Reg No 2368571. E.I.O. Trustees Ltd Reg No 941199. EdenTree Investment Management Ltd (EIM) Reg No 2519319. All companies are registered in England at Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester GL1 1JZ. EIO and ELL are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 113848 (EIO) and 110318 (ELL). EFAS and EIM are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference Number 126123 (EFAS) and 527473 (EIM). EUML is an appointed representative of EIO who is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Firm Reference Number 402228.