From the Revd Dr Philip Goggin
Sir, — We, as those responsible for a country church, face a difficult challenge in respect of theft of lead from the roof. Our insurers had specifically excluded cover for lead theft (and associated damage), after two earlier thefts. They were not prepared to cover the risk — at any price. This was although the stolen lead had been replaced by stainless steel, and so there was less lead left to steal. Thus we have not been insured for lead-theft.
Now we have had most of the remaining lead stolen (worth about £2000 to the thieves, we believe) leaving a trail of damage which will cost us about £25,000 to put right.
Is not insurance about spreading risk? If we are deemed to be at higher risk than others because lead has been stolen before, why not calculate a premium that takes that higher risk into account? or put a higher excess on the policy for lead-theft? Both these strategies are used elsewhere in the industry. We, however, were not given that opportunity by our insurance company.
Our predicament is comparable to obtaining flood insurance for vulnerable properties. Some companies have declined to insure such properties, and there are said to be some properties that are uninsurable. Interestingly, the government is stepping in to provide insurance where householders are left exposed.
One could argue that we should have tried harder to shop around for a policy that provided the cover we wanted. The counter argument is that an insurer should help its customers to manage risks intelligently.
The Vicarage, Middlewich Road
Crewe CW1 4RD