Ashburton churches and community groups are struggling to pay post-earthquake insurance costs.
Among churches coping with rising premiums is St Stephen’s Anglican Church.
Ashburton Anglican minister Jacqui Paterson said insurance costs this year for the parish’s buildings of St Stephen’s Church, the Anglican administration centre and its church at Allenton had quadrupled.
The cost of insuring the St Stephen's church building on Park Street alone was about $33,000 for the year, and altogether about $60,000 for all of the Ashburton parish’s buildings.
The parish was “very, very fortunate” to be part of the Christchurch Diocese, where the Church Property Trustees (CPT) ensured the insurance was paid, she said.
The parish had had to cover one third, and it now had to decide whether it could pay back the remaining approximate $40,000 to the CPT.
Regardless of what that decision would be, the fact was that such high insurance costs were “unsustainable” leading into the future.
“We need to wait and see what the diocese comes up with, what is on the table, from full cover down to demolition only,” Ms Paterson said.
The latter would be the most minimal cover in the case of a building having its costs of demolition covered if it had been damaged to such a serious extent.
At the Baring Square Methodist Church, parishioners are faced with the frustration of having to cover a building they cannot use. They have not been back in the historic town centre church since it was damaged in the 2010 September 4 earthquake, but have continued its earthquake and other cover regardless.
The landmark building may have to be demolished, depending on the cost of repairs and strengthening.
Church property officer Allan Tweed said the decision to continue with insurance, including earthquake cover, had been made by connectional office, and the parish was paying about $1000 per month. This figure represented an increase of about 50 per cent on last year, and included earthquake cover.
“It’s a frustration for us,” Mr Tweed said.
“We have raised the issue with connectional, but they say we need to keep the insurance policy alive.”
A second frustration was waiting for engineers’ reports on what repairs and strengthening may be required, and waiting to hear from connectional regarding negotiations with its insurance company as to whether the company would cover strengthening of the church to the new requirement of 67 per cent of the new building code.
The town’s Catholic and Presbyterian churches could not be reached yesterday but have both previously said their parishes had dropped earthquake cover in the face of rising insurance costs.
Ashburton Silver Band chairperson Gavin Hunt said the group had dropped earthquake cover for its building on Cameron Street in the face of rising insurance costs.
Ashburton Senior Centre spokesperson Russell Anstiss said the centre had just had to put its rents up due to rising insurance and other costs such as power.
“We are not there to make money, but we need to cover our costs, so we did put the rent up for the first time in 13 years,” Mr Anstiss said.
Ashburton Savage Club members are paying almost double what they paid in insurance last year on their Wills Street building.
Treasurer Russell Carter said the former maternity home, constructed in the 1920s, cost $1905 to insure last year, compared to $3197 this year.