Mark Davie explains the aims and benefits of the Baptist Insurance Fund and Brian Brannigan of Trinity Baptist Church shares a cautionary tale about the importance of having adequate insurance cover.

Baptist Insurance Fund

The Baptist Insurance Fund was created in the early 1980s by the Baptist Union with three clear goals in mind:

To use the buying power of all of the Baptist churches in New Zealand to obtain concessional premium rates, enhanced policy coverage, and a stronger presence with insurers than might otherwise be the case for lots of individual churches.

To provide insurance coverage that recognises the sometimes unique risk exposures of a church operation, giving the most appropriate cover in the event of loss or damage.

Through a carefully structured and tailored insurance programme, to encourage sound management of church risks by the individual churches with the aim of generating a surplus of premium over claim costs. Profits derived from the Fund’s activities could then be recycled back into the ministry of the Baptist Union to enhance the Kingdom, rather than the financial results of insurers.

It has been testament to the adoption and collaboration of each church that the Insurance Fund has been able to achieve these goals since its inception.

A changing market

The insurance market, which is a global network involving both local insurers and global reinsurers, is constantly changing. This is due to major claim events such as large-scale fires and storms, and the ever-evolving legislative and regulatory changes that governments implement from time to time to comply with international trends and requirements. 

In New Zealand, various levies and taxes have been imposed that insurers must collect with their premiums. Examples include a levy to fund Fire and Emergency and a levy to fund the EQC, which insurers must collect on residential property they insure. 

All of these events and changes have the potential to, and often do, impact on both the cost and the scope of insurance that is available from the insurance market. 

The importance of relationships

With the relationships the Baptist Insurance Fund has formed across all of the participants in the insurance market, especially in more recent times with Concordia Underwriting Agency (a Lloyds cover-holder), we have the ability to react quickly and respond to the various insurance needs that arise from time to time.  

It is also through these relationships that we have been able to negotiate enhancements to policy wordings and to achieve a wider scope of coverage than is ordinarily available from insurers, and to assist in achieving settlements of claims that may have otherwise fallen outside the terms of the policy.

Understanding the complexities of policy wordings and the coverage available is a specialist area. The Baptist Insurance Fund draws on the expertise of brokers who understand the sometimes unique requirements of church insurance programmes. This helps us to identity the right insurance at a competitive premium, therefore continuing to achieve the original goals of the Baptist Union. 

We at the Baptist Insurance Fund look forward to continuing to serve you! 

Contributor: Mark Davie

Mark is director of Sepio Insurance Management, which was established four years ago. He has been the broker for the Baptist Insurance Fund for the last 20 years, so has a vast knowledge of church activities and operations. Mark, his wife Darlene and their two children attend Elim Christian Centre in Pukekohe.

Fire at Trinity Baptist Church

About 4.30am on the 10th January 2019 I was awoken by a phone call telling me our church was on fire. It was quickly brought under control and, although the damage was bad, I thought it would be an inconvenience at worst. The fire service investigators concluded that the fire was electrical and that no suspicious circumstances existed. I estimated that we’d be back in the building within three months.  

Being the holiday period, it was difficult to find someone to cover the roof. A large storm was approaching, with heavy rain and gale force winds predicted. So, once the loss adjuster arrived, we decided to move our furniture, instruments and sound system into the dining area at the back of the church. 

That night the weather changed and we had high winds and a little rain. Then someone rang me at 11.30pm to say the church was on fire again but at the other end of the building now, and that the flames were at least 15 metres in the air. 

The second fire was much worse. All the equipment that we had moved helped to create a large bonfire so we lost almost all of our church belongings, as well as our building being severely damaged.  

The worst part was the asbestos roof. We had looked at this 12 months earlier and found it to be stable. So, instead of removing it, we’d chosen to use a special sealer and then three coats of paint. That was $30,000 down the drain, although it did keep the fibres intact during the fire. We had also spent several hundred thousand dollars six years previously on a refit of the whole building. It cost at least $500,000 to clean up the asbestos. The red tape was huge.  

The church in 2018 had appointed a new leadership team; several people had retired or moved away from the area, and I was appointed to the eldership. We were starting to work through some changes to the running of the church, then this hit us.  

What we didn’t know was the contents insurance had been reduced to $50,000. People think in the terms of break-ins, not total loss. Chairs, curtains, blinds, soft furnishings, kitchen equipment, tables, table tennis tables and children’s toys were all destroyed. The last bit of colour I had in my hair, has left me since I started this project!

But there have also been high moments. The morning after the fire, people kept stopping by, asking how they could help, including schools offering their premises on a Sunday. 

Every other church denomination in the area offered the use of buildings and gear, and help with our special needs programmes and offers to accommodate our youth. It was a wonderful way to see the wider Christian family at work.  

I thank people like Rangiaruaru Hema from the Baptist Union, Brian Smellie and Chris Finlay from the Wellington Association, and Paul Edlin from North Porirua Baptist Church for their support. And we’re thankful for the amazing donation that came from the Levin Life Church and Pastor Paul White. It’s the wider church body pulling together to help each other.  

Before the fire, Trinity Baptist had been preparing for our 60th anniversary. With all wiring and lighting being renewed and all the buildings completely refitted, we should be ready to go for another 60 years, unless the Lord chooses to return beforehand!

Contributor: Brian Brannigan

Brian is an elder of Trinity Baptist Church, Titahi Bay. He came into contact with this church first as a 12-year-old, when neighbours got him into Boys’ Brigade. This led to Sunday School, and then into church itself. He is married to Kathryn and they have two daughters. Several young ladies who they fostered also remain connected with their family.

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