Cattolica Assicurazioni, Italy’s sixth largest insurer, has finalised an agreement with the Episcopal Conference of Italy (CEI) to provide a re/insurance policy that will protect religious buildings from natural catastrophe risks in all 25,796 parishes of the 225 Italian dioceses.
The policy is believed to be the first national scheme of its kind, and will protect parish buildings, such as churches and bell towers, against earthquake and flood risks on a uniform basis throughout the country.
The exceptional scope of the project required involvement from some of the major global reinsurance players to define the extent of the risk, according to Cattolica.
In the event of a disaster, these reinsurers will be relied upon to provide their expertise and a swift pay-out of funds that will ensure timely reconstruction efforts.
Paolo Bedoni, Chairman of Cattolica, said: “This agreement is the result of teamwork carried out by the Technical Departments and the Business Unit Religious bodies and non-profit, an instrument strongly wanted by Cattolica for better interpreting the needs of the Italian Church, a world to which, through history, identity and competence, we are traditionally linked.”
Italy is highly exposed to catastrophe risks, with 6 of the 10 most expensive European earthquakes having occurred in the country between 1970 and 2016, according to data from the National Association of Insurance Companies (ANIA).
78% of Italian homes are also considered to be highly exposed to earthquake risks, and yet insurance penetration in the country remains low, with only 2.5% of homes protected against earthquake and flood.
The idea of a national catastrophe insurance project was given impetus following a series of earthquakes that occurred in 2016, which damaged more than a thousand religious buildings, including the iconic Basilica of San Benedetto in Norcia, a third of which remain unusable.
Alberto Minali, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cattolica, said: “In the 2018-2020 Business Plan and in continuity with the long-standing commitment from Cattolica in the field of Religious Institutions, the agreement reached rewards and enhances the distinctive proposal of the Cattolica Group in the innovation of insurance solutions, especially aimed at this sector.
“In a country with a strong environmental risk, hydrogeological and seismic like Italy, the operation also takes on a social value of which we are particularly proud because it protects a heritage that represents the very identity of the country”.