8 Major Risks Churches Need to Address

March 19, 2020 - 6 minutes read

Safety officer 2Some time ago we wrote a post about the importance of appointing a risk manager in your church organisation. The role of the risk manager is to oversee your organisation’s risk management program – which essentially involves identifying significant hazards and controlling risks.

Having a solid risk management program in place helps prevent accidents, injuries, lawsuits, and insurance claims and extra costs.

While the risks faced by faith organisations are not uniform, according to Ansvar Insurance there are eight major risks common to churches in Australia. These are outlined below.

1. Fire damage

Fire risk management involves understanding how fires start, taking proactive steps to prevent them and knowing how to maintain and use fire equipment. It’s a big topic to cover and as such we’ve produced many posts about fire prevention and safety over the years. These include:

Also check out all our fire safety articles for more information on fire prevention strategies.

2. Storm and water damage

Storms can cause serious damage, especially to roofing. A damaged roof can then lead to building water damage, mould and rot, or to electrical damage.

In addition, it’s important to know that if you fail to keep your roof in good repair you risk having an insurance claim for water damage denied.

See our previous posts if you would like more detail on these topics.

3. Malicious damage, vandalism and theft

Acts of vandalism and theft can lead not only to financial losses but feelings of fear and vulnerability within your community.

It’s important to reduce the risk through good security and various other measures. See our prevous articles on tackling vandalism and on church security for tips.

4. Volunteer workforce risks

While we might spend a lot of time recruiting and training paid employees the same effort is often not put into volunteers – even though volunteers are also workers within the organisation.

Ansvar says the main issues involving volunteers include inadequate screening and training, lack of documented procedures, and volunteers doing tasks they’re not skilled for. This means that as well as providing your volunteers with a safe place to work, you also need to consider volunteer recruitment, background checks, training and skills matching. Our previous post on health and safety for volunteers has more information on this if required.

5. Personal injury litigation

According to Ansvar litigation against churches for injuries and abuse has become common. While there are no guarantees, developing safe premises and safe church practices can help to substantially reduce the risk of personal injury claims and litigation.

Liability insurance cover is also crucial for financial protection in case of lawsuits. Our previous post briefly explains different types of liability insurance cover available. Also see our article on liability exclusions for high-risk activities that may not be covered by a policy.

6. Reputational damage

Failure to control risks can lead to all kinds of problems that result in damage to your organisation’s reputation. These include damage from fraud, identity theft, claims of abuse and more.

The articles below may be helpful for reducing your risk of reputational damage:

7. Under insurance

This essentially refers to not having enough insurance to cover your losses when things go wrong and is a common problem in Australia.

Ensuring you have adequate cover for your buildings, contents and liability risks helps avoid additional losses following a claim. See our previous article on underinsurance for more information on addressing this issue.

8. Child protection

This is a huge topic as you might imagine. We have produced many articles on child protection and prevention of abuse. These include:

Ansvar has also produced a Fact Sheet on the sexual abuse of children and vulnerable people that covers your legal obligations and risk management tips.

The importance of insurance cover

While it’s up to you to reduce your risks, insurance cover provides a financial safety net if things do happen to go wrong. To discuss any concerns or questions you have about your policy, get in contact with us.

Further reading

CCI: all posts on risk management

Written by Tess




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