Amber alerts have been issued across parts of the UK ahead of Storm Christoph bringing heavy rain this week, and Ecclesiastical Insurance is encouraging churches to take steps to prevent flooding.
The Flood Forecasting Centre, a collaboration between the Environment Agency and Met Office, has issued a flood warning ahead of the storm, which is set to bring two months’ rain in just 36 hours to parts of Wales and northern England.
The combination of rain water and thawing of snow could lead to localised flooding, putting properties at risk as water courses become overwhelmed.
Each year insurers see a rise in claims during the winter months of December, January and February, especially when storms hit.
During recent years extreme winter weather has caused widespread damage to properties across the UK with the average insurance claim being between £20,000 and £40,000, according to the Association of British Insurers.
Ecclesiastical’s claims teams received over 1,200 calls relating to flooding during storms Ciara and Dennis in 2020, and the specialist insurer is encouraging churches to take steps to prevent flooding this year.
Jo Whyman, risk management director at Ecclesiastical, said there are steps that can be taken to help prevent flooding – but, with 1 in 6 properties in England and Wales at risk of being flooded in the future, being prepared is the best course of action.
He said: “People living in an area that might be susceptible to any form of flooding need to be prepared. Developing a flood plan for your church, setting out how to respond if there is flooding, is a really important step.
“Think about ways to prevent water from entering the church, such as flood barriers and ensure any gullies or drainage channels are cleared out. If a flood warning is issued try to move valuable items out of reach of flood levels and keep up to date with the latest alerts from the Met Office or the Environment Agency.
“Make sure you have a list of key contacts such as the emergency services, an electrician, a Gas Safe Contractor and your insurer in a safe and waterproof place.”
Ecclesiastical has also developed a Risk Calendar to support churches to consider some of the risks to their buildings throughout the rest of the year, including having electrical wiring checked to help prevent fire and reviewing security arrangements.
The calendar is designed to identify key risks throughout the year to help churches protect themselves and churchgoers from harm.
Although the latest set of nationwide restrictions has meant some churches have closed, those that remain open for worship should make sure that they keep churchgoers safe by following government guidance. The Ecclesiastical website has information on how to make churches COVID-19 secure.
To help churches through the latest UK-wide lockdown, Ecclesiastical has also made temporary cover enhancements relating to unoccupied premises.
The full details of these and a full list of the advice on steps to take to protect church properties from the risk of water damage, and the risk calendar, can be found on the Ecclesiastical website: https://www.ecclesiastical.com/.