While having dinner with an attorney friend of mine the other day, he mentioned that he was working on a negligence lawsuit in the area. I initially thought a large company was being sued, but he informed me that it was actually a local church being sued by a visitor that slipped and fell during Sunday service. Churches are usually staffed by volunteers who have other responsibilities outside of the church and do not always have the risk management knowledge needed to protect a church or its members. Churches have expanded their scope beyond Sundays. Many churches have daycare and eldercare centers, preschools, community group meetings, rehearsals, and study groups. All of these activities present special risk management issues for houses of worship that can be addressed by the proper insurance. In this article, I will examine the 4 main reasons to buy church insurance.
Weather and Fires
According to industry data, there are roughly 1,800 fires every year in religious organizations. This has resulted in millions in damage. Cooking and faulty wiring are the main causes of fires in churches. Arson is another main cause of church fires. Weather events over the past year such as hurricanes and tornadoes have also contributed to a significant number of weather damage claims for churches as well. Adverse weather may result in:
- Structural damage
- Roof damage
- Frozen pipes
- Damage from falling branches and trees
However, insurance may not cover your church if there is flooding or if regular maintenance has been neglected.
Theft and Burglary
It is sad to say, but churches are often the top target of burglary and theft. Thieves often target expensive audio and computer equipment housed in churches. This can result in significant financial loss. Structural damage to doors and windows often occurs as well due to burglary and theft. Insurance will often cover these items as well as religious artifacts and relics.
Lately, news of sexual misconduct throughout organizations and Hollywood is prevalent. Churches are not exempt from these types of lawsuits or claims. If someone in your church is accused of misconduct, the liability portion of your insurance policy will be very useful. To prevent these types of issues churches should:
- Provide sexual harassment training
- Write policies against harassment
- Run background checks on all employees and volunteers
Get Insurance Coverage You Need
The first thing any church should do is examine their budget. Determine how much the church can afford to pay each year for insurance. Afterward, they should work with a reputable insurance agent or broker that has experience in providing insurance to churches. This is key to avoiding gaps in coverage. There are many different types of insurance available for organizations and having an experienced guide is worth it’s weight in gold.