COVID-19 and your Methodist Church Shield Insurance policy (November 2020)

05 November 2020

With the re-establishment of national lockdown restrictions, and churches being told that apart from funerals, places of worship will only be open to allow individual prayer or services to be broadcast to the congregation, it’s time for us to take a fresh look at the temporary cover enhancements that apply to churches.

We are glad to have been able to respond swiftly when needed, to help your church navigate these periods of uncertainty. With lockdown measures being put in place again it becomes important that you once again take all the necessary steps to secure church premises.

We therefore want now to provide clarity on how our cover will respond over this period, and we have also updated the temporary cover enhancements we previously applied, as follows. Please see below the automatic enhancements we are applying to all policies during this period to try to provide additional peace of mind:

  • There will be no additional premiums for these enhancements.
  • These enhancements will automatically apply during the lockdown period ending on 2/12/20 in England.
  • These will equally apply to any similar lockdowns in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as per the dates announced locally by the governments in these countries.
  • We will review and extend these enhancements for a further period if we deem it appropriate should any lockdowns be extended further.

Employees (including clergy, church officials and authorised volunteers) working from home

Your church policy includes as standard, cover for contents whilst away from the premises and/or specifically at the homes of employees.

Liability - health and safety

Resources for employers are signposted by the Health and Safety Executive on their latest information and advice page.  As organisations look to different working models for continuity, they also have useful guidance on homeworking and working alone.

Subject to the terms and conditions of the policy, both Employers’ and Public Liability policies provide an indemnity to the policyholder if they are held legally liable for accidental bodily injury or illness arising in connection with their business.

Churches that engage in emergency community support programmes or similar that help supply food and provisions to those affected by the movement restrictions

We would consider this work to be part of the usual activities of the church. However, we would expect the individual churches to follow Public Health England (or equivalent body)/Government guidance at all times and observe any precautions stipulated by those bodies.

Church premises that are temporarily closed solely due to the COVID-19 outbreak

Church buildings that are temporarily closed are exposed to different and usually greater risk than buildings that are open for regular use.

It is a condition of your policy that you advise us when the use of a building is ceased on a permanent basis or where the future of the building is being decided and we would then apply restrictions in cover and conditions precedent to cover that need to be complied with. Normally we would also charge an additional premium.

However, we can confirm that temporary closure of your church buildings due to the COVID-19 outbreak would not result in us applying restrictions in your cover or charging any additional premium. We do however expect that you manage the risks associated with a closed building and we have therefore developed a guide to help you do this. 

Outstanding risk improvements, periodic conditions and maintenance conditions

Any policy term that requires regular maintenance, inspection or where we have specified completion of a risk improvement by a specified deadline that cannot be fully complied with or fully completed solely due to the COVID-19 outbreak, causing travel restrictions or the lack of availability of contractors or materials will be suspended until:

  • Government restrictions on public movements have been lifted, or
  • the availability of contractors, or
  • the date the temporary cover enhancement expires.

Whichever is the sooner. Where possible please attempt to comply with the policy terms or complete risk improvements in part or in whole given the circumstances at the time. Please document the steps you have taken with regard to compliance for your records.

All other policy terms, conditions and exception are unchanged.

We hope that this provides the reassurance you need in these unprecedented times. If you are unsure about any of the guidance or have any other questions relating to your church insurance please contact us on 0345 606 1331.