Did you know that generally, churches are not exempt from workers compensation laws? A lack of insurance coverage will not protect your church from liability in the event there is a work-related injury or illness.
Injuries and illness due to work-related accidents are not all that uncommon at churches. Specifically, you will find that many of these accidents occur to your volunteers. Volunteers make up the majority of the workers you will find in churches. Think of all the ways your members volunteer their time:
- Community Service Projects
- Fundraising Events
- Mission Work
- After School Program
- Sunday School
- Social Functions
Let’s say a member is working on a church service project, where your organization helps to clean up a local park, and this member inadvertently injures their back while volunteering. Is the church held liable since the volunteer was working on behalf of the church? While volunteers do not make any money and are not technical employees of the church, if they suffer injuries in the course of their volunteer work, they may be entitled to some sort of compensation.
Volunteer Waivers And Orientation
When creating your insurance policy for your church, you will want to specifically stipulate what sort of workers compensation coverage volunteers will or will not receive. In many cases, some liability can be avoided with volunteer waiver forms. Volunteer waivers are written statements in which the volunteer agrees to assume the risk of injury or illness that they might sustain while working as a volunteer. Websites such as www.legalzoom.com can offer you releases such as these. By having your volunteers sign these forms, you can ensure that some of the church’s liability involved with these events will be negated.
It is also a good idea to think about having volunteer orientations, especially for large or risky projects. This way you can go over safety procedures, protocols and training for large groups of volunteers. This would also be an appropriate time to hand out waiver forms for your members to sign. By doing these things, your volunteer assumes a lot of the risk involved with these events.
If you’d like to learn more about church insurance, be sure to read 2 Insurance Coverages Every Church Needs But Might Not Have.
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