During the past year we (the undersigned) have been meeting together to make a detailed investigation of the type and level of insurance considered advisable for ringers, including those engaged in inspections or restoration work.

In setting out to examine these requirements, we have considered, firstly, what cover was presently available; secondly, what cover ought to be available; and finally have briefly commented on other related areas.

We have made enquiries of Diocesan Offices and Parochial Church Councils as to the cover provided for ringers. It appears that no Diocese places any obligation on its PCCs to provide such cover, although it is usual for a Diocese to make recommendations as to the types of cover advisable.

The majority of PCCs from whom replies were obtained provide cover for ringers through the Ecclesiastical Insurance Office, with almost identical benefits; these benefits are generally low, partly due to the difficulty of Insurers providing cover for a group of people with widely differing incomes.

From our enquiries of both PCCs and Associations it was clear that

(a) the local captain is frequently unaware of what (if any) cover was provided and

(b) cover, where available, may not have been regularly reviewed; for example, to take account of a greater number of ringers than was stated on the policy. Also

(c) a church’s Public Liability policy would almost certainly not cover the work likely to be undertaken by ringers.


In view of the rather limited cover provided by PCCs, we feel that Associations should hold insurance policies to cover ringers whilst ringing and carrying out routine maintenance and also particularly whilst more substantial work on bells was carried out, having regard to the large amount of voluntary work presently done. To give Associations a guide as to the level of premiums and benefits available on the insurance market, we have obtained the following specimen quotation through a Broker from an insurance company in the London market:


Assured: All resident members of the Association and their pupils. Interest:
  1. Death.

  2. Permanent Total Disablement.

  3. Temporary Total Disablement (maximum 104 weeks), arising out of ringing, instructing, maintaining, inspecting or doing work of any description on towers and/or bells and/or their fittings and framework anywhere in Great Britain.

Sum Insured:

(a) Age 16-70 Age under 16 Age over 70
3.£10 p.w.NILNIL
Premium 10p per capita p.a.
3.£50 p.w.NILNIL
Premium 20p per capita p.a.

NOTES (not part of quotation)

  1. The quotation was given on an assumed membership of about 500, of whom about 12 members would be involved in restoration work, etc.

  2. Similar rates are likely for between 300 and 700 ringers, although different rates might apply for smaller and larger Associations.

  3. We do not advise naming those involved in restoration work. However, we would impress on Associations the importance of establishing that those engaged on such work are both responsible and experienced.

  4. In these inflationary times we feel an indemnity limit of less than £5000 is of little value.

  5. Visiting ringers are excluded, since they are deemed to be members of another Association which should have its own cover.

  6. We did not ask for cover to include travel to and from ringing or any (social) function associated with ringing, as these aspects were not considered to be part of our brief.

We have also considered Public Liability cover, where claims are likely to arise from damage to a third party; for example, if a spanner were dropped through a belfry opening hitting a passer-by, or if a bell were dropped, causing damage to the church. It had been noted that the cover presently held by some Associations specifically excluded claims arising from such accidents.


Assured: The Officers and Members of the Association.

Interest: Legal Liability for accident or injury to Third Parties or their property, arising out of ringing, instructing, maintaining, inspecting or doing work of any description on towers and/or bells and/or their fittings and framework anywhere in Great Britain, including member to member liability and damage to property being worked upon (subject to a £25 excess).

Sum Insured:

(a) Limit of indemnity £250,000 any one occurrence, Premium £75.00 p.a.

(b) Limit of indemnity £500,000 any one occurrence, Premium £100.00 p.a.

NOTES (not part of quotation)

1-3 as Personal Accident.

  1. The quotation assumed two major jobs per annum.

  2. The indemnity limit to some extent will depend on the size of jobs undertaken, but it is felt that a limit of £250,000 be considered an absolute minimum. Neither we nor an experienced broker would advise unreservedly on the correct indemnity limit, but it is suggested that the comparatively small increase in premium is justified by a considerably higher limit. In any case, the limit should be regularly reviewed, having regard to the effects of inflation.

  3. This quotation was obtained from a different insurance company to that for the Personal Accident, although it may be possible to obtain competitive prices for both covers from the same company.

We would again stress that both the above quotations are intended as indications as to what can be obtained. Associations are advised to approach an insurance broker to obtain quotations appropriate to their own requirements; in case of difficulty in contacting a suitable broker, Associations are invited to contact David Sloman of 261 Ashingdon Road, Rochford, Essex SS4 1 UA; he has kindly offered to assist any Association in locating a broker. It may be noted that no charge is made by the broker; he derives his commission from the insurance company.

We did contemplate provision of cover on a national basis, but felt this to be impractical since

(a) some Associations might not participate,

(b) the initial financial burden on the Central Council in paying the premium would be prohibitive, and

(c) the administrative work involved in collecting premiums, etc., would be excessive and out of proportion to the possible saving in premiums.

We have briefly considered the question of professional indemnity cover and conclude that such cover is too expensive to contemplate, quite apart from the fact that some “bell-advisers” have no technical qualifications. We would recommend that any “advisers” in giving written reports use a disclaimer such as “advice given in good faith, no liability accepted”.

We examined the cover provided to members of the Towers and Belfries Committee of the Central Council. Whilst it was felt unlikely that any insurance office would wish to write a policy for any smaller premium than at present, it is very evident that a dramatic increase in benefits could be obtained elsewhere.

We have not investigated the levels of cover for bells, tower contents, Association property, etc., but recommend that Associations should give these areas attention also.

We would particularly like to express our thanks for the valuable assistance of Kate Parlett, in both the giving of sound advice and obtaining the sample quotations.

Ian H. Oram
Michael J. Church
David Sloman

The Ringing World, February 27, 1981, page 195

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