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Canadian company insuring churches against sex abuse lawsuits

For three years, an insurance company in Canada has quietly sold special insurance to hundreds of Canadian churches and non-profit groups to protect them against"counselling liability" and"sexual-abuse" lawsuits

In the country's church boarding schools alone, claims by some 8500 alleged victims total more than$A2.41 billion, of which the Canadian government has declared it is willing to pay 70%. The Catholic, Anglican and United churches have protested they cannot afford to pay the remainder

Smith insurance offers up to$A8.82 million in liability coverage. President J.D. Smith says the company will insure only those groups that have"an aggressive abuse-prevention policy" including police checks of all employees

The company has already paid damages on some of these policies, but he refuses to give details, other than to say that some of the claims have involved sexual assault

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1 - Mar - 2002