24 Aug 2011

Closure tipped for churches that can't afford insurance

9:02 am on 24 August 2011

Scores of churches may have to close if they are unable to afford increased insurance premiums.

Ansvar, their main insurer, says premiums are likely to double, or perhaps even treble for pre-1935 churches in earthquake-prone areas.

It will be up to individual parishes to work out how they pay increased premiums, which will vary depending on the age, structure and location of the church.

Anglican insurance board chair Don Baskerville says selling some buildings and sharing churches with other denominations is a possibility.

He estimates premiums for pre-1935 churches are currently $3000 - $6000 currently.

A change to the way excess is calculated will also hurt them. Instead of churches paying 5% of the loss, they will have to meet 10% of the site's value.

Ansvar says the premiums and excess charges are going up because it anticipates its own insurance costs will increase.

The Catholic Church's insurance policy is due for renewal in December and the Anglican Church in April.

The Presbyterian Church will also be affected by the increase in premiums.