Church Pension Group | Get to Know Christopher Rourke

The Good Steward

Get to Know Christopher Rourke: New CIC Senior Vice President and General Manager

February 2021

The interviews were online, the handshakes were virtual, and his entire staff was remote, but Chris Rourke, who spent his career in commercial property and casualty insurance managing challenges, wasn’t fazed.

His confidence crystallized in his most recent role as president of a regional property and casualty insurance company. There, he oversaw all company functions, from underwriting, claims, and loss control to finance, human resources, and IT. Managing so many important roles enabled Chris to gain an in-depth understanding of each key functional area.

Now, as the new Senior Vice President and General Manager of Church Insurance Companies, Chris would be taking the reins at CIC in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic and putting his breadth of experience to work.

Sacred Spaces

Even without the crisis, leading an insurance company that provides coverage to sacred sites requires a unique skill set because of the properties’ special purpose, restricted use, and treasured interiors.

“The pandemic may have an impact on how Episcopal institutions approach their real estate. Some may choose to consolidate their square footage or find opportunities to repurpose their church or administrative spaces. Finding ways to scale back can also help their own bottom line,” Chris says.

There are so many irreplaceable artifacts and ornate items within the church, such as pipe organs and stained glass. Buildings are especially vulnerable when they are not used regularly or are unoccupied for long stretches of time.

Chris points out that insuring The Episcopal Church isn’t only about replacing valuables when tragedy strikes, noting, “They’re more than just objects to the Church. That drives home the importance of working with clients on risk management efforts to help avoid losses.”

No Silos

How can CIC work with the Episcopal institutions it insures on loss prevention when nearly all in-person meetings within CIC and with clients have ground to a halt? By finding new ways to lower the barriers that impede the flow of information in a world where nearly everything must be done remotely, Chris explains.

“Look at how virtual church services have broadened the reach of the Church to include people who otherwise might not have been able to attend in the past. It’s the same with business. We’re finding more expedient ways for everyone to meet. We may even be able to include a larger number of vestry members that way,” he says.

New Ways to Conduct Business

Chris imagines a future where Zoom meetings are a regular part of interaction with clients, rather than solely traveling for in-person meetings. CIC is also using technology to update property valuations remotely while increasing efficiency and accuracy. Google Earth, which uses satellite imagery to render buildings in three dimensions, confirms a property’s footprint. Other software helps to diagram the plot and calculate the current replacement value of a property.

Thanks to the application of these and other cutting-edge programs, CIC was able to update estimates of building replacement costs for the 18,000 buildings it insures in just three years compared to 10 years when it was conducting onsite visits.

“It is truly important that we identify ways we can work to better serve our clients,” Chris says. “The pandemic has shown that we are resilient—and ready to adapt how we do business. It’s the only way we can continue to provide excellent service to our clients.”

Perspective and Appreciation

Family is important to Chris. He keeps busy with his three young children by joining them in their many interests and activities. “Sports are a passion of mine. I love playing and watching them, and going to ball parks.”