Update storm precautions as weather patterns change

The recent storm damage along the East Coast is an unfortunate reminder that we seem to have entered a period of “superstorms.” Congregations would be well-served by updating their storm preparation procedures, including a review of their insurance policies.

The following article from the InterConnections archive outlines practices that are useful in advance of, during, and following a storm. They include keeping the institution’s insurance policy some place other than the congregation’s building, checking the limits on your policies, and considering flood insurance, since areas are being flooded that haven’t been before. Read the full article,  With Wilder Weather, Check Your Insurance, for more information.

Copper thieves targeting churches

Lisa Presley, district executive of the Heartland District, cautions congregations to be alert to prevent theft of copper items. She notes that a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Cincinnati lost three of its heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units recently to copper thieves.

Copper prices began a dramatic rise around 2002 as investors looked for safe commodities to invest in. Prices have fallen in recent months but are still well above the 2002 price. Stolen copper is, in many cases, easily resold, making it attractive to thieves.

Presley said, “These kinds of thefts are becoming epidemic. The thieves are clever and organized. Chances are they have checked out your patterns—so make sure that you vary things when you come and go. Think about lighting. Think about befriending your congregation’s neighbors so they will keep an eye on your property. Ask your local police to drive by from time to time. Ask them to do a survey of your property. Review all your safety and security options. Trim back trees and foliage that might hide thieves.”

Church Mutual, the company that insures a majority of UU congregations, has put out a copper alert, noting that many church buildings have lost copper downspouts, plumbing, and wiring in recent years. Thieves have posed as contractors or repair workers, stripping copper out of HVAC units in the middle of the day in some cases. When plumbing is thus damaged, free-flowing water can create even more problems.

UUA Health Plan enrollment open

The month of November is the annual open enrollment period for the UUA Health Plan.

The staff of 307 UU congregations, plus many UUA staff and related organizations are covered by the plan, said Plan Director Jim Sargent. He noted that plan premiums have increased less than 16 percent over five years and that base rates for participation in the plan will decrease 5 percent this year. Complete information is on the Unitarian Universalist Association Health Plan page on UUA.org.

The plan is open to congregational paid staff who work at least 750 hours annually. Enrollment is open at any time for people who are newly hired, with new dependents, whose hours have been increased to meet the 750-hour minimum, who have lost coverage they had through a spouse or partner, whose congregation does not renew an existing group plan, and whose benefits change for individual plans. If a congregation participates in the plan all eligible employees must be offered coverage.

The UUA Health Plan also has a new Health Blog where participants are invited to contribute to discussions about food, meditation, books, exercise, and more.