Insurance for Societies

dot There is a variety of types of insurance cover that societies should consider taking out. Because most societies have only limited funds, what is ultimately done will depend on the reconciling of what is essential and what is affordable. However, it is important that every effort be made not to insure for less than the full value of the property at risk, and, wherever possible and affordable, reinstatement and replacement extensions should be taken out.

dot It is recommended that at all times quotes be obtained from more than one insurer. Using the services of an insurance broker to advise and assess/ obtain quotations before taking out policies is also recommended. It should be noted that, under the provisions of the Insurance Contracts Act, a copy of policy wording can be obtained before any commitment is made.


dot Basically insurance for societies is no different to that for any commercial enterprise and insurance policies are issued for a variety of risks usually based on a fire policy for the society's property and this is then extended out to include a variety of different risks. The cover available to a society is only in general limited by the amount of premium that the society is prepared, or can afford to pay. The main covers that are available are noted below.

Fire and Specified perils

dot Provides cover for society property or property which it is contractually liable to insure including both building and contents.

dot In addition to the basic fire cover the policy also covers such risks as:

and these covers are governed by the standard fire policy exclusions as detailed in the policy wording of each specific insurance company.

dot Policies often cover additional benefits such as:

dot Usually the policy will also include automatic extensions such as:

and all policies are subject to a clause which provides for an adjustment of the amount payable under a claim where the sum insured is less than the full value of the property at risk of a claim.

dot Other extensions which should be considered are:

Loss of Income

dot Insurance cover can be taken out to cover the loss of income to a society following the operation of a fire or specified peril subject to the provisions and conditions of the policy.

Burglary Insurance

dot Insures the society property to the maximum of the sum insured for theft following forcible and violent entry to the property and related losses and the policy extends to cover such things as:

all to an amount where the sum insured is not exceeded.

dot The policy does not cover such things as:

dot NOTE: In the case of burglary insurance it is not normal to insure the full value of the property at risk. Analysis of the amount of property that is likely to be stolen in one event should be done and cover taken for that figure.


dot Can be covered:

dot There are several exclusions which should be borne in mind such as:


dot Covers external and internal glass for which the society is legally liable and the policy will usually be extended to cover such things as:

Public Liability

dot Covers the society, and members, for its legal liability to the public arising from society activities where the damage to property or injury to persons arises from negligence on the part of the society or members.

dot The policy can be extended to cover liability arising from property damage or personal injury caused by goods sold by the society.

dot Usually at no extra cost cover can be arranged for such extensions as:

and this policy contains the normal exclusions to a public liability policy.

Machinery Breakdown

dot Any machinery owned by a society can be insured for breakdown subject to the limitations of the various policies issued by individual insurers.

Personal Accident

dot A policy can be taken out to cover accidental injury to or death of members and/or voluntary workers, including when travelling as part of voluntary activities, for defined events such as loss of income and/or permanent loss of listed body parts. The policy can be extended to include a level of cover for medical expenses involved, home help, funeral expenses, etc.

dot The Australian Council for Volunteering can assist with details of providers of this type of coverage.

Multiple Risks

dot Specifically listed items of society property can be insured for a wider range of covers including accidental damage, however, it must be borne in mind that the cost of this cover is much greater than the ordinary Fire and Perils cover.

Fidelity Guarantee

dot An insurance that can be taken out to cover the fraud and dishonesty of employees or office bearers of the society and the cost to the society of such dishonesty.

Workers' Compensation

dot Insurance required under the terms of the Worker's Compensation and Rehabilitation Act in respect of the liability owed by an employer towards an employee.

dot It is probably wise for all societies to take out a policy at least for a minimum cover even when they do not believe that they have any employees as the Act does provide for situations where sub-contractors and persons under a contract for service are deemed to be employees for the purposes of the Act.

Statutory Obligations

dot Whether a society is incorporated or not the law/government may impose statutory obligations on it. These statutory obligations on societies vary from place to place. For example:

Section 44 of the Associations Incorporation Act 1984 No 143 (NSW) requires incorporated associations to take out and maintain a Public Liaibility Insurance policy for a minimum of $2,000,000, unless exempt under Section 45 of that Act. Section 70 of the Associations Incorporation Act 1981 (QLD) requires "the members of the Management Committee" to ensure that the incorporated association (forthwith on receiving a certificate if incorporation) takes out insurance in respect of "damage to property, death or bodily injury occuring on the property of the incorporated association" to $100,000 and keeps such cover current at all times.


dot Some of the above may be subject to an excess in the event of a claim and this amount will vary according to the insurer.These notes are prepared for the assistance of member societies of the Federation. They do not purport to provide a full account of insurance cover possibilities or details or to provide legal or other advice. Societies should obtain appropriate advice where required.

The Federation is grateful to Keith Dearnley, a member of the Western Australian Genealogical Society Inc, who has worked in the insurance industry all his life, for providing the detail for this Information Sheet.

Click Image to visit Members List

Last modified: 12 October 2015

Copyright © 2004, The Australasian Federation of Family History Organisations Inc.
GPO Box 1394, Canberra, ACT, 2601, Australia
ABN 31 076 496 332