Updating Adventist Property Listings Is
“Ethical Issue,” Risk Management Rep Says

Outdated assessments could mean inadequate funds to restore property.

BY ARIN GENCER, Adventist News Network
he Seventh-day Adventist Church’s risk management and insurance organization is on a mission to ensure church-owned properties throughout North America are valued by current standards.

Adventist Risk Management (ARM) is working with the denomination’s local administrative conferences in the region to update property evaluations so that church and school facilities’ insurance values reflect the actual cost of replacing damaged property, said Gideon Dayak, a risk-control consultant with the organization. The alternative could mean not having adequate funds to restore a lost building.

“To go out and insure a group of churches and suggest that the possibility exists that if they have a total loss there may not be enough value there to rebuild a church . . . to me, is an ethical issue,” said David Rawson, senior field service representative for ARM. “There was an ethical mandate to get out and get this done.”

REPLACEMENT COSTS: Updated reporting of the condition and value of Seventh-day Adventist Church property is important to assuring adequate funds are available for repair or replacement, said David Rawson, of Adventist Risk Management. Shown here is the Southern Asian Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland. [PHOTO: Kellner/AR]
Rawson and his fellow field representatives in the region are engaged in “a constant process that we’ve pushed aggressively” to update files, he said, going into the field to evaluate facilities for the details required for a fresh appraisal. He estimated that ARM has completed about half of the project, which began about seven years ago.

Adventist Risk Management’s efforts in the North American region follow a multiyear effort to address a similar issue in the world church’s East-Central Africa, West-Central Africa, Southern Africa-Indian Ocean, and Southern Asia divisions, Rawson said. A decade ago property lists for those parts of the world were seriously outdated—not just in terms of property values but also in terms of having an accurate list of existing facilities, including the GPS coordinates for each location, he said.

“We’d have two properties on a piece of land sitting next to each other—one building was obviously ancient and no longer needed to be insured; a brand- new building sitting next to it had absolutely no insurance coverage,” Rawson said, describing some of the scenarios encountered. “If you don’t list the property on your insurance statement of values, and you have a loss, you have no coverage. So it was really important to get that cleaned up.”

Dayak—who conducts property appraisals and safety/risk-control analyses—said he has assessed some 300 North American properties in the past six months. The process involves a close inspection using an established property-insurance standard, and taking photos of the building. Dayak then enters the building’s data into the Marshall and Swift commercial property estimator, which provides replacement costs based on zip code.

“You wouldn’t believe the sense of appreciation and relief that they feel to know that they’re valued correctly,” Rawson said of the conferences he has worked with.

Since January 2011, ARM has conducted more than 25 risk-management and insurance-coverage training seminars for church administrators, including those in North America’s Southern Union Conference and South Africa’s Zimbabwe Union Conference, said Arthur Blinci, ARM vice president for marketing and field assessment.

Such sessions cover an array of topics, Dayak said, including the best way to care for properties; avoiding potential hazards inside buildings; having and following an emergency evacuation plan; and having an inspection that identifies the cost of replacing lost property. The seminars help church administrators better understand their insurance coverage and learn how to report losses on a timely basis when an accident occurs, Blinci added.

Copyright © 2018, Adventist Review. All rights reserved worldwide. Online Editor: Carlos Medley.
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