Covering everything from grand temples to local masonic halls, The Masonic Mutual offers the opportunity not only to reduce the cost of insurance, but also to explore who owns what when it comes to masonic heritage
‘The challenge is getting people to understand that change can be a good thing,’ says Robin Furber, sitting on the top floor in the Supreme Council’s central London premises. Robin is the chairman of The Masonic Mutual, a new company that went live on 1 July. The Masonic Mutual offers cover for owners and users of masonic buildings and organisations against traditional risks such as fire, flooding, accidental damage and theft, as well as employers, public and products liability.
However, due to the way that The Masonic Mutual is set up, it can offer cover at a competitive price that will potentially decrease as the membership increases and, if income exceeds claims and expenses, can even return the resulting surplus back to its members.
With no shareholders to pay, and being owned by its members, the Mutual already has three big clients on its books: the United Grand Lodge of England and its properties around Freemasons’ Hall in London; the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and all its care homes in England and Wales; and the Supreme Council, with its properties in London’s Duke Street. However, the cover hasn’t been designed solely for large estates, and Robin is now keen to reach out to the Provinces. Any owner of a building used for masonic purposes will be likely to enjoy real benefits from joining the Mutual.
While quality of cover, claims handling and response times are all important factors, Robin accepts that the prime motivator for people changing their insurance will be price: ‘What we’re doing is cutting out a huge amount of cost and we aim to be able to reduce premiums paid to the commercial insurance market by around ten per cent at least. The Mutual has to pay for someone to manage the cover, but it’s nothing like the cost that would be retained by an insurance company to underwrite a risk. The cover wording is also extremely broad, so it should easily accommodate all the usual insurable exposures that the owner or user of a masonic hall is going to face.’
Unlike a normal commercial policy holder, a Mutual member pays into a fund – one that will pay out claims up to a certain level. The fund also pays for a manager’s fee and top-up insurance in the commercial market for any claims that are in excess of the retention that the fund will take. In other words, if any claim or an accumulation of claims goes above a certain level, the excess amount will be covered by a commercial insurance company.
‘Any owner of building used for masonic purposes will be likely to enjoy benefit from joining the Mutual’
Currently, any single claim up to the value of £50,000 is underwritten by the Mutual. To protect the Mutual’s fund from an unexpected series of individual losses, or a single large additional loss, extra protection is bought from the commercial insurance market.
‘As membership of the Mutual increases, our reliance on the commercial market will go down as our buying power increases,’ says Robin. ‘The bigger the bucket, the greater the Mutual’s control of its financial destiny.’
In terms of the potential market, Robin understands that there may be about eight hundred masonic buildings around the UK that are being used for masonic purposes. The launch of the Mutual is also a fantastic opportunity for Provinces to do an inventory of the masonic buildings and other assets in their area.
‘This is going to be an interesting exercise as it encourages those responsible for buildings to look at what they’ve got. We don’t always know who owns the halls and buildings – some are owned by lodges, some by collectives, some by trusts and some by individuals,’ says Robin. ‘I think it will be very useful for Grand Lodge to find out what’s owned by the masonic family.’
With The Masonic Mutual now live, the cover is being marketed to all potential members throughout the Provinces in England and Wales. ‘We don’t expect them just to come to us,’ says Robin, ‘but we’d like them to give us the opportunity to quote for their insurable risks. Stage two will be to offer protection to individual lodges that do not own their own premises.’
Robin is keen to stress that the Mutual is being launched for the benefit of masonry as a whole by providing a good-quality product at a good price by a company that is not shareholder driven. ‘It’s for everyone,’ he says. ‘If we have a good year, we can increase the retention and not pay as much to the commercial market, which will make the cover cheaper.
‘At some stage in the future, it’s also our intention to pay out surpluses based on the amount someone has paid in. It’s a win-win situation.’
For more information visit the Masonic Mutual's website