The archdiocese is proposing that little more than a third of its churches be insured against earthquake damage and to continue paying for full replacement cover over all buildings against such non-natural disasters as fire, theft, burglary, vandalism and storm.
In a letter to parishes at the end of September, Archbishop John Dew said that the archdiocese could not afford to insure all buildings for replacement in the event of an earthquake.
The archdiocesan committee looking at ongoing insurance cover for Natural Disaster perils, which include earthquakes and tsunamis, has recommended that 25 of the archdiocese’s 63 churches be insured for earthquake and tsunami damage.
This selection reflects location, building type, use and likely ongoing use, seismic status and likely resiliency. It also means that any community will have somewhere to gather, worship and provide outreach in the event of a major earthquake. Those parish communities whose churches are not covered by Natural Disaster insurance will be able to worship in a nearby church that is safe.
Halls and other buildings on parish land will not be insured against natural disasters but presbyteries will be covered.
To enable the archdiocese to pay the insurance bill, parishes will be levied between eight percent and nine percent of income, if the premium is at the same level as this year which is by no means certain. This will be reviewed on 31 May 2015 and any surplus funds returned to parishes. The levy enables the cost of insurance to be distributed across all parishes taking account of individual parishes’ ability to pay.
‘This provides for a common good approach and acknowledges that the mission of the Church is paramount and takes precedence over any individual building,’ the letter said.
The insurance consultation process has been timed to avoid detracting from the current reimagining project on which Archbishop John will report at the end of October.
ADW staff have given the archbishop a shortlist of buildings for natural disaster insurance and it is hoped parishes will be able to respond to insurance proposals before 4 October.
Visit the Project Stronger website to follow the archdiocese’s work to protect our people and taonga in the event of an earthquake.
For more on the 16 August quake that damaged the 75-year-old church at Ward, click here.