Looking after your church buildings
It is important that congregations understand their responsibilities in looking after their building to comply with important insurance requirements.
If your church buildings are closed solely due to a Scottish Government closure mandate applying any time after the 5 January 2021, then the insurer for our Church Scheme, Aviva, has offered to maintain full cover in return for compliance with five basic property management requirements:
- Carry out internal and external inspections of their building/s at least once a week
- Maintain a weekly log of inspections
- Immediately repair, or arrange to repair, any issues detected (including removal of graffiti and in the security or alarm or fire protection installations)
- Remove any waste from the premises either inside or outside the building/s
- Check to make sure all the external doors are locked and close and secure all windows.
Aviva have indicated that it is their intention that this offer to provide full cover on places of worship, closed solely due to Government Guidance and who comply with their management regime, will remain in place until the end of the of the COVID-19 outbreak. Whilst no guarantees can be given because of the unconventional way that Aviva have chosen to provide the additional cover, it is the best understanding of CoSIS that should a congregation choose not to re-open when the current lockdown restrictions ended on 26 March 2021 that it will be 45 consecutive days without use from that point in time before they are deemed to be unoccupied and have cover reduced in line with the policy wording (there may be the opportunity for unattached church halls that are still not in use beyond that date to due to ongoing government restrictions to continue full cover however please contact COSIC for detailed guidance).
Given the fluid nature of the Government’s response to the virus and our return to the tier system these five requirements should form the basis of a property management strategy to be applied whether premises are deemed occupied or unoccupied to provide a consistent element of oversight on the condition of the property and maximise the potential insurance cover available.
A weekly inspection checklist and log of inspections has been produced and congregations are actively encouraged to use this during their weekly inspections.
Aviva do, however, recognise that there may be circumstances where it’s not possible for weekly inspections to be undertaken. Where this is the case, you should contact CoSIS to discuss whether another approach may be possible.
If your church buildings had not re-opened following the initial lockdown in March 2020 or were closed prior to the imposition of the Scottish Government mandate from 5 January 2021 the buildings are now likely to be considered unoccupied. Whilst it has been agreed that at this point in time no additional premium will be charged there will be a material reduction in the cover provided and a revised version of the unoccupancy endorsement will require to be complied with and will also include the need to check the building and maintain accurate logs of visits and matters of concern. Please note that there is a duty to disclose unoccupancy to your insurer and failure to do so could result in non-payment of a claim. Further information can be found on COSIC's website or by emailing COSIC.
If you have any questions concerns regarding health and safety or the condition of your building, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions or concerns specifically relating to COVID-19, please email Covid19Guidance@churchofscotland.org.uk.