Premiums refund because of closures
Hard-pressed parishes feeling the effects of financial pressure due to Covid-19 restrictions will receive rebates on their insurance premiums, The Irish Catholic can reveal.
Priests have welcomed the decision by the main insurer of Church property that parishes will receive refunds due to lockdown and the fact that many churches were closed.
Parishes will receive the rebate based on the “reduced possibility of a claim under their Public Liability & Employers Liability Covers”, an Allianz spokesman told this paper.
The rebate will be provided as a percentage of each parish’s premium, with each parish receiving the same percentage rebate.
This comes despite varying reactions to strict restrictions existing on public gatherings from mid-March until June 29, with some dioceses closing all churches completely and others remaining open for private prayer and small gatherings for some sacraments.
Acknowledging this, Alan Black, Religious and Education Customer Relationship Manager for Allianz, said: “Although churches were permitted to remain open in a limited capacity, some diocese[s] and parishes did choose to close their church doors for the duration of the lockdown and there is no doubt that those that remained open, did so with greatly reduced footfall.
“In view of this both unexpected and unprecedented situation, Allianz has decided that a premium rebate for our parish customers would be fair, and we have committed to provide such a rebate across all of our Catholic parish customers equally,” he said.
Priests facing significant insurance bills with falling collections told this newspaper the decision was “very welcome” at a time when the majority of parishes are facing financial difficulties.
In Ennis parish in Co. Clare, Fr Tom Ryan PP whose insurance bill is €20,000, said that “they’re [Allianz] aware of how the parishes at the present time are struggling and how we depend on the good will and generosity of people”.
“Any contribution that we can receive in terms of rebates like this, or generosity of people or donations is very welcome, because everything that we receive at the present time is necessary in order just to maintain the present level of services we provide but also as we go forward into the future, which is a very uncertain future and we do not know what way this will end up or develop, so any kind of contribution or any easing of financial pressure on a parish is to be welcomed,” he said.
Fr Joe Deegan PP of Clara parish in Offaly, who has an insurance bill of €10,500, said: “Any saving on the insurance bill would be welcome, obviously in the current times when things are tight.
“Even with the restricted numbers coming to Mass obviously the collection is still not back up to what it would be in normal circumstances.
“People are doing their best and I suppose parishes just have to try and reshape their budget insofar as possible, cutting back on certain expenses – but coming into the winter there would be a concern with the costs of heating, etc. in churches. We have to try and keep taking it slowly and surely,” he said.
Allianz parish insurance policies combine a number of covers such as property damage, professional indemnity, legal expenses and employment practice liability. The possibility of a claim did not reduce during this period for these covers, according to the company.
The insurer added it is “very proud of its longstanding relationship with the Catholic Church”.
“During this time of difficulty for our nation, we are very happy to support our parish customers and give something back,” Mr Black said.