Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic Update

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Pandemic Update

Attention: Church and Charity Leaders


The Coronavirus Pandemic has changed much of our world in the past few weeks, including at work, home and church.  Closures of non-essential workplaces and bans on public gatherings implemented by civil authorities in provinces across Canada has meant that building premises and many charitable programs and services deemed non-essential, have ceased temporarily and indefinitely.  

While the best practices contained in our IMPORTANT CORONAVIRUS NOTICE posted March 11th may become applicable and advisable again when government bodies decide to cease civil orders limiting public gatherings and workplaces, for now it is important to continue to check with your provincial government ministry of health for rules, regulations, guidance and advice related to non-essential workplaces, public gatherings and travel. 

In a recent devotional blog posted by a local pastor known for his gift of humour and plain speaking, he retold the story of the two guys rowing a boat in the middle of the lake, when one says to the other “hey, you have a hole in YOUR side of the boat.”

The current challenge we now all face is a common one, in our testimony as faith communities and as a society working together.  We must protect those most vulnerable and in need. We must also support and uplift each other in our material needs, mental health and the spiritual life with good news of the gospel to all the world, especially in times such as these.


Many of our church client organizations are now streaming services and programming in order to connect, support and minister to congregations and communities.   I heard another pastor say that “we are now all shut-ins.”  As you look to technology to stream ministry, to support your congregants and communities, and to facilitate continuing tithes, offerings and donations to fund your programs and personnel, you might find the following customized resources helpful and practical for your organization: 

Plan to Protect – Safe Online Engagement

Canadian Council of Christian Charities – Allowable uses of Non-Essential Workplaces


Question:  Our organization is coping with coronavirus (COVID-19), having shut down public services and certain programs as required by government authority orders.  However, if we have a prolonged lockdown of our building (i.e. no one entering or working on premises except for required maintenance or emergency) will this vacancy affect our insurance coverage?  

Answer:  A vacant building can mean that you have no insurance coverage for loss or damage to your building(s) and contents.  A vacancy results in a reduction in coverage in any insurance policy following the allowable period of vacancy in the wordings with exclusions for claims for the following types of perils:

  • Water damage, including backup, escape, seepage, flood and sprinkler leakage
  • Vandalism and glass breakage
  • Theft, or attempted theft

Robertson Hall Insurance has been working closely with your insurance companies to provide an automatic Vacancy Permit provision for all Church & Charity Protection Plus client organizations, to ease the demands and challenges facing our clients during this difficult period.   This permit is effective as of 12:01 AM March 27, 2020 and shall expire when applicable government authority orders cease in your jurisdiction with respect to closure of non-essential workplaces and premises, and bans on public gatherings. Copy of the Vacancy Permit ATTACHED

Note: This Vacancy Permit does not apply if you had a building on your policy previously deemed Vacant per your policy declarations and subject to coverage restrictions.

However even with a Vacancy Permit there are certain conditions that must be met in order to have full coverage as per your regular policy wordings and terms, including the following measures:

  1. A minister, staff member, board member or professional property manager must check the premises thoroughly a minimum of seventy-two (72) hours, or less, including walking the entire building(s) inside and around the exterior to check for signs of any vandalism, theft or water damage, including  malfunctioning plumbing, sump pump, or HVAC systems (i.e. furnaces, boilers, water heaters, etc.)
  2. During the winter and early spring heating season, make sure to keep the thermostat at an absolute minimum temperature of 18.5 degrees Celsius (65 degrees Fahrenheit)
  3. Ensure that all existing building protection systems continue to be functional and monitored, including security systems, fire protection systems, kitchen fire suppression systems, sprinkler systems (if any), and monitored sump, sewer backup and in-drain backflow systems.
  4. Continue to have all required or scheduled inspections completed as required by law, including boiler inspections, loss control inspections, fire equipment inspections, sprinkler systems (if any), kitchen fire suppression systems, etc.
  5. OPTIONAL:  Consider shutting off the main water supply to the building (if feasible and there is no sprinkler system) as this will avoid most unnecessary freezing, bursting, water escape and overflow claims.

We too are affected by the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting implications of orders by public health agencies.   Although insurance including continuing policy coverage, insurance claims and emergency response mitigation and cleanup has been deemed an essential service, our management team and staff are primarily working from home.   However, we are making all efforts possible to maintain full functionality for our client’s renewal coverage issuance and claims service, in order to maintain your important Property, Crime and Liability protection during these challenging days. 

Thank you for your cooperation in maintaining safe premises and avoiding preventable and uninsured claims in your vacant building(s), by following the above prevention measures to meet the conditions of your Vacancy Permit coverage.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 

Sincerely yours,

Kenneth A. Hall, President 

Kenneth A. Hall, B.A. (Hons), R.F. is the President of Robertson Hall Insurance Inc. Ken specializes in customized insurance and risk management advise for over 7,000 churches and charities across Canda with the Church and Charity Protection Plus program. To find out more about Ken and the team click here. To find out more about Church and Charity Protection Plus click here

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