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How an Aussie Church Developed a Risk Management Program

The Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of NSW, and the ACT (UCA NSW) needed to re-engage the insurance industry in a whole new way. When you think of risk management, church organizations might not be the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, many churches and other non-profits approach the insurance industry with their fingers crossed. They hope they have the right data they need to get the best rates possible.

But for these organizations, there is a better way, and that way includes the adoption of risk management software systems that can make a huge difference. And for the Uniting Church in Australia, that meant an immediate 30% savings on their insurance costs.

Risk Management and Churches

Why are churches so at risk? Well, large church organizations have more to worry about than just weekend services, although there are risks there. Many run outreach programs for the poor, elder care and health centers, food banks, and other charitable events. All of these come with their own associated risks.

In the case of UCA NSW, it is an umbrella organization that, in addition to churches, owns and operates childcare centers, aged care facilities, schools, and hospitals, and runs a range of social justice programs such as foster care services and supervised injection centers. Each part of this business has its own risks and insurance needs.

"You can have the best risk management processes and controls within your industry, but unless you can articulate that and evidence that to the insurance market, it can be ineffectual,” says Christian Mathis, Risk Insurance Manager for the church organization. 

Gathering Data into the Storehouse

For UCA NSW, the organization was in desperate need of revamping its risk profile. To do that, they needed information. “I knew when I first got into the role that for me to re-establish and re-engage the insurance market, we would have to have good-quality information and data. One of my first projects was to think about what information we needed in the medium to long term to not only provide to the insurance market but also for the sort of reports that I believe our internal boards and stakeholders should have,” Mathis says.

The process turned out to be a tough one, with the need to convince leadership that a new course was warranted. In the end, a risk management information system (RMIS) by Ventiv tech was chosen as the answer.

Before that time, paper surveys were distributed to each arm of the business with about a 30% response rate, a poor amount of data to approach the insurance industry with. This was the moment when they were crossing their fingers hoping the data was “accurate enough.”

Today, tailored questionnaires are distributed electronically. "The response rate is now more than 90%," Mathis says, “and that gives us confidence in what we declare to insurers.” But what has that data meant to the overall costs of insurance?

Drastically Reducing Rates and Risk

One simple example is property insurance. Before, the church would present a list of properties and locations. That fell under one pretty stable policy, but there was little data about risk. That meant little room to tell a narrative and negotiate price.

With new data though? The church was able to break down assets in several portfolios, which then resulted in an immediate 30% savings on property insurance. “We were able to cut up the asset schedule into various pools and compare how those pools of assets perform from a claims perspective. You can get a lot smarter about how you structure a policy; you may have different excesses for different pools of asset classes that reflects how they each perform, and you can be much smarter about where deductibles should really be.”

That’s all about what you can really afford to self-insure. And data drives all of those decisions.

The need for that data will only get greater the more data becomes available. “Insurance data is the lifeblood from which risk transfer strategies are not only set but ultimately measured and assessed. Whether you are focused upon the remarketing of a particular risk class, the calculation of optimal self-retentions, or the development of risk allocation strategies, such decisions must be made where the accuracy of underlying data is undisputed," Mathis says.

Want to learn more about how this Aussie church developed a better risk management program? Learn more here, and when you’re ready, contact Ventiv for a comprehensive evaluation regarding what risk management information system is right for you and your organization.



Aug 29, 2022

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