Ecclesiastical urges caution ahead of 2022/23 storm season

06 September 2022

Ecclesiastical Insurance is encouraging customers to take precautions to help prevent potentially catastrophic damage to property ahead of the winter storm season.

Fallen spire of St Thomas church, Wells

It comes as the Met Office published its annual list of storm names for the upcoming storm season serving as a reminder to property owners to prepare for extreme weather.

In February Storm Eunice caused widespread disruption and damage as 122mph winds battered the country. St. Thomas’ Church in Wells was badly affected with the high winds knocking the church spire down which was captured in dramatic footage which spread across the world. The church spire has been painstakingly restored and was reinstalled last week following a six-month project costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Churches can help to prevent experiencing damage to property by carrying out some basic steps before the storms arrive:

  • Arrange for any bushes or trees that could damage windows in high winds to be trimmed back
  • Ensure the church or property is properly maintained throughout the year paying particular attention to areas most likely to bear the brunt of any storm such as steeples, pinnacles, and the roof
  • Secure loose objects in the churchyard and grounds that could be blown into windows
  • If working at height, make sure that all health and safety steps are taken or appoint a professional contractor to carry out the work
  • Close and securely fasten doors and windows, particularly those on the windward side of the building and especially large doors.

Churches should also prepare a recovery plan which covers how to deal with severe weather events which cause flooding, high winds or other damage to minimise the risk to property.

It is also important to keep safe during after storms. Do not visit the church to repair any damage while the storm is in progress. If you have to go into a church or are in a church during a storm, make sure to enter and leave the building through doors in the sheltered side, closing them behind you. When the storm has passed if there is damage, and it is covered under your policy, contact reputable contractors to make safe fallen trees or walls.

Jo Whyman, risk management director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “The storm name announcement by the Met Office always generates a lot of interest and as an insurer we are no different. We know the impact storms can have on our customers and this is a timely reminder for them to take steps to prepare for the winter.

“Some of the steps customers can take include carrying out simple visual checks of the property to identify issues such as overgrown vegetation, loose roof materials, damaged guttering, or blocked rainwater gullies and allow simple maintenance measures to be put in place.

“Similarly, checking of drains and gullies in the land surrounding your buildings, such as access roads and car parks, is key to identifying potential flooding risks in advance of any storm conditions. Signing up to receive the latest alerts from the Met Office or the Environment Agency can also help to prepare for the worst.

“As ever, our expert risk teams are on hand to deal with any risk management queries customers may have – while our dedicated team of claims handlers will be able to support them if they are affected by storms this winter.”

Read our article - Storm safety advice for churches.