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Ecclesiastical Insurance will not take part in redress scheme for victims of church-related abuse

16 February 2024

ECCLESIASTICAL INSURANCE, one of the main insurers for Church of England bodies, will not participate in the National Redress Scheme for victims of church-based abuse, it was confirmed this week.

A General Synod briefing paper published last Friday indicated that “one of the insurers serving many of the Church of England’s local bodies” had withdrawn from participation in the scheme.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Ecclesiastical Insurance confirmed the decision, saying that a redress scheme “falls outside of the insurance contractual obligations to parishes and churches. We have given the Church’s request for us to participate in its proposed redress scheme serious consideration and engagement.

“However, there are a combination of legal and commercial reasons why this is extremely challenging and complex for any insurer, and we are therefore unable to participate in the scheme. We will continue to honour our obligations to our policyholders.”

There is no debate on the scheme scheduled for the Synod’s sessions, but it was debated twice last year (Synod, 14 July and 24 November 2023).

In these debates, concerns about the burden that the scheme might place on parishes were raised, together with queries about the insurance implications of any claims.

A spokesperson for the Redress Project Board said on Tuesday that the board was “disappointed that one insurer has decided not to contribute to the recommended funding approach for the National Redress Scheme. We are already exploring alternative funding models and speaking with survivors and others to help us revise our approach.

“The Redress Project Board remains committed to ensuring that local bodies are not asked to contribute more than the Scheme determines they can afford, and any alternative funding approach will factor this in. We recognise that Scheme funding is important to victims and survivors of Church-related abuse, as well as the wider Church. We will announce details about our agreed approach soon.”

The spokesperson for Ecclesiastical Insurance clarified: “The insurance protection we provide parishes and churches is completely unaffected and we remain committed to honouring our policies and supporting victims and survivors of physical and sexual abuse within the claims process, which we believe is exceptionally important. We take this responsibility very seriously and will continue to undertake this in accordance with our Guiding Principles.”

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