6 Common Risks to Manage and Insure in ChurchesOctober 23, 2019 - 8 minutes read
Managing your risks forms part of a responsibility you have to your community, and towards ensuring people are not exposed to unnecessary hazards and dangers.
In saying that however even the best risk management can fail – and this is where insurance comes in. Church insurance cover should form part of any good risk management program for faith organisations. This is because it provides a layer of financial protection to the organisation and the community in case things do happen to go wrong.
In a faith organisation, risks can relate to property, people, reputation, finances, workplaces, and governance. Some of the most common church risks (outlined below) include slips and trips, children’s playground equipment, handling cash and finances, falls from heights, and use of electricity.
Common church risks and how to insure against them
1. Slips and trips
Slips – or loss of foot traction – could occur on your property due to slippery polished flooring, liquid spills, wet pathways or floors or from poor lighting.
Trips on the other hand happen when a person catches their foot on an obstacle and loses balance. Causes of trips might include bucked mats, rug edges, broken tiles, steps and stairs, or objects such as boxes.
Preventing slips and trips may involve creating clear pathways, putting down slip-resistant mats, isolating wet floors, or doing prompt repairs on steps. In a workplace it could also involve requiring staff to wear sturdy footwear to help keep them safe at work.
Insuring against the risk of slips and trips can be done through an umbrella liability policy in case of claims of injury on your property.
Also see our previous article on preventing slips and trips for more detail on this topic.
2. Children’s playground equipment
It’s natural that we want our kids to be able to play freely, but it is important they can do so safely as possible.
While we might hear stories from adults about how they swung upside-down from the monkey bars over concrete surfaces when they were kids and were never hurt, the fact is thousands of children land in hospital due to accidental falls every year – some of which result in death.
Keeping kids safe while playing may require installing surfaces under play equipment that reduces the impact of falls – such as mulch or synthetic rubber. Other safety measures include guardrails on elevated platforms, removing sharp edges on equipment, and providing shade to prevent sunburn.
Insuring this risk can be done through a liability policy in case of injury claims.
For more detail on this topic, see our previous posts on children’s play ground equipment and on safe use of jumping castles.
3. Cash and finances
Churches and charities need to demonstrate they are totally above-board and using secure procedures to prevent theft when it comes to handling money.
Good cash-handling security practices help prevent misuse of church funds. They might include ensuring there are at least two people (preferably not related) present to count cash received. Other measures include segregating counting and banking duties, and using lockable safes.
The same accountability applies when it comes to fundraising. This might include respecting donors’ wishes regarding their donations, and giving full disclosure about the use of funds.
For insurance, an industrial special risks policy that insures for property loss and consequential loss (e.g. loss of revenue) can provide the financial protection needed.
For more information on these topics, see our previous articles on cash handling and on fundraising and donations.
4. Children’s ministry
Providing safe places for children has come under a spotlight in recent years with the Royal Commission and State Inquiries. Children have a right to be safe from physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect.
This means anyone working with kids should at the very least have Working-with-Children and police checks. Children’s ministers and youth group leaders should also be well-trained regarding boundaries, behavioural expectations, and church child protection policies. Mandatory reporting and child protection regulations should also be adhered to.
Insurance coverage types for these risks include personal accident for volunteers and ministers, and a general liability policy in case of claims of harm to a minor. (However, make sure to take note of the Known Offenders Exclusion on a liability policy).
Note: the ChildSafe program was established to help churches and other organisations better manage child safety and protection. This includes not only prevention of child abuse but also other matters like safety around food, water, hygiene and transport. ChildSafe is free to all insured members. See our previous post for more details.
For further reading (CCI articles):
- New minimum child-safe standards in Australia;
- Working-with-Children checks;
- Child safety legislation Victoria;
- Risk management for youth camps.
5. Falls from heights
Working at heights is one of the top risks for injury and death in Australia. Some of the hazards include unsafe use of ladders, lack of guardrails, insecure balconies or non-compliant balustrades.
You can reduce the risk of falls through safe ladder use and fall protection devices during constructions or renovations. This includes guardrails, scaffolds, or mesh barriers. Installing compliant balustrades on balconies and stairs is another important measure for preventing falls.
For financial protection, an accident policy (volunteers) and a liability policy (public) can provide the insurance cover required in case of claims of injuries. Also, if you employ people to work in your organisation you should have workers’ compensation cover. Any external contractors you use for trades work should provide their own liability and workers’ comp insurance.
Our posts on ladder safety, construction risks and church renovations provide can more detail if required. Also see our article on workers’ compensation insurance.
6. Use of electricity
Electricity is one of those things we often take for granted (that is, until we get the bill!). However, being careless around the use of electricity can lead to fires, burns and electric shocks.
Safe use of electricity includes updating old wiring, avoiding extensive use of extension cords and double adapters, installing safety switches, regular testing and tagging, and keeping electrical equipment dry and dust-free.
Insurance cover through an industrial special risks policy provides financial protection in case of fire and building damage, while a liability policy provides coverage in case of claims of personal injury or loss.
For more information see our posts on safe use of electricity, electrical switchboard standards and electrical testing and tagging.
To discuss your policy, call our office during business hours or send us an email.
Written by Tess Oliver
Tags: asset protection, insurance, risk management