17th March 2016

Liability insurance for bell ringers

(Notes provided by Ecclesiastical Insurance Group)

There appears to have been some confusion surrounding the cover for bellringers, particularly when they are ringing at a church which is not their “home” tower. As this is quite a common occurrence, as ringing is a sociable activity and people on holiday, or even locally may choose to visit another church to ring their bells, either on a Sunday or on a practice night. This note aims to set out the position we should take.

Where bellringers are acting as ‘authorised volunteers’ for a PCC, with the PCC accepting overall responsibility for their activities, the Public Liability insurance under our Church Parishguard policy would provide an indemnity in the event of legal liability attaching for accidental bodily injury to or death of a third party. Or accidental loss of or damage to third party property arising in connection with bellringing at the church or elsewhere in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, subject to the usual policy terms, conditions and exceptions.

This would also apply to visiting bellringers where they are acting on behalf of the PCC, with the PCC accepting overall responsibility for their activities. Where the visiting bellringers are acting on behalf of their ‘home’ PCC then the ‘home’ PCC Public Liability insurance would apply as described above.

As you are aware, we regard authorised volunteers as employees for the purposes of insurance. Therefore the Employers’ Liability insurance under our Church Parishguard policy would provide an indemnity in the event of legal liability attaching for bodily injury to an employee arising during the course of their duties on behalf of the PCC, subject to the usual policy terms, conditions and exceptions.

The Personal Accident insurance will provide a benefit as detailed in the Church Parishguard policy following accidental injury to, or death of authorised volunteers aged between 3 and 80 years and whilst engaged in church business, subject to the usual policy terms, conditions and exceptions.

Where a separate legal entity, such as a Diocesan Guild of Church Bellringers exists it should hold appropriate insurance cover in its own name to protect its own distinct legal interests. The Parishguard policy would not provide an indemnity to the Guild.

We would recommend to them that both Personal Liability and Employer’s Liability cover is arranged. Whilst there isn’t a legal requirement for Employer’s Liability insurance to be arranged in respect of volunteers the HSE regard volunteers as being ’employees’ in health and safety matters. As stated above we regard ‘authorised volunteers’ as employees where they are working in the capacity of a paid employee or who are working with the authority of and under the direct control of the insured.

Steve Amos and Marcus Booth

10 October 2014

Liability insurance for bellringing outings

Mrs Kate Flavell, FCII, Chartered Insurance Practitioner, has designed a form that outing organisers can use, when requested, to demonstrate to towers visited that insurance cover is in place. Organisers obviously will need to check with all those on the outing that they have house contents or other insurance covering their personal liability.

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