Sometimes when one thinks about insurance and church it seems like oil and water, they just do not go together. After all the church’s purpose is to build up their membership through shared belief and encouragement. Why would an organization whose very purpose is to be a light in the darkness need to worry about insurance? There are many ways this question can be answered but they are lead back to two basic reasons as to why you need church insurance coverage:
Reason #1: Any church can be held liable and sued
— Throughout my years helping churches with their insurance programs I have witnessed what seems like the feeling among churches that they are immune from liability. The important thing to consider is that even if no wrong doing has occurred the church can still be sued and the church will still have to defend itself. Take this story for example:
On a Sunday morning a church member tripped over the grass bordering the sidewalk while walking into the sanctuary. There was nothing unusual about the sidewalk or the grass so there is nothing the church could have done to prevent the incident. Despite this, and even though the church member did not appear to be injured, the church reported an insurance claim as the church member indicated that she was considering legal action.
This story is a good demonstration of my point: in modern America people can sue anyone, including churches, for anything regardless of fault or intent. Having properly placed insurance can help the situation be handled with much less cost and inconvenience than if no coverage was in place. Here are some liability insurance policies to consider:
- General Liability: This policy provides coverage for a wide array of different situations where your church is held liable.
- Employment practices liability: When allegations of harassment, unfair hiring or promotional practices as well as many other situations claimed by staff or employees the church needs this policy for protection.
- Auto Liability: Every church that has buses or vans need commercial auto liability.
- Pastors professional liability and sexual abuse and molestation: These coverages are so important for churches that I wrote a blog to cover just these two critical policies that every church should have, 2 Insurance Coverages Every Church Needs But Might Not Have.
Reason #2: Because no church can predict the weather
— Just like any other building a church is can be catastrophically damaged by weather. Ask yourself this question as just one example:
If our church was struck by lightning and burned to the ground do we have enough money saved to:
- Remove and clean up all debris from the fire?
- Rebuild the entire church from the ground up?
- Cover the additional costs of making sure the new church is up to current code standards?
- Replace all the furniture, computers, pews, lighting, sound, musical equipment as well as all the other furnishings and items inside?
- Cover any ongoing expenses that continued while the church was being rebuilt such as loan payments?
If the answer to this question is no you need to make sure that you are working with a commercial insurance specialists that understands churches. While a complete loss of your church is not probable it is possible and that is where insurance can help save your ministry.
The Bottom Line
While a church is not the same as a typical “business” the potential for claims is just as high if not higher for churches. By working with a quality insurance specialist that has experience with the unique needs of churches you will be able to focus on your congregation. The cost of custom church insurance program is very small when compared to the larger cost of the unforeseen putting an end to your ministry.