Churches or places of worship may be places of security and safety for many of its parishioners, but that doesn’t make the church immune from risks. There are several types of insurance available that a place of worship needs to protect not only the building and the property inside, but also more specific coverages for other risks that a place of worship, or even its parishioners may face.
Here are 15 types of insurance that every church or place of worship needs:
- Protection Against Legal Action
Unfortunately, in this day and age, it is easy for anyone to start a lawsuit or be sued, even places of worship. Any church is susceptible to a lawsuit by its members, parishioners or guests, or other third-party individuals. General Liability insurance can be tailored to the individual church’s needs and comes in two parts:
- If someone makes a claim for injuries sustained on church property or while taking part in a church-related activity
- If someone’s property is damaged by the church or its members
- Insurance for Your Property
This is also coverage for property belonging to the church:
- The church building(s) itself: Church Building insurance covers events like fire or wind that cause damage to the church. This can include additional buildings that are a part of the church, such as separate classrooms, day care buildings, or storage sheds.
- Items inside of the church building(s): Items inside the church buildings, such as tables, pews, computers, musical instruments, etc. are all covered against damage caused by a covered event (e.g. fire).
- Coverage for items that leave the church premises: If any property is ever taken off church grounds, then additional coverage will be needed to protect these items against loss, theft, or damage.
- Coverage against damages that put your ministry on hold: Sometimes damages can be so severe that the church services can not be held at the church. Costs for holding the church service at a temporary location can be covered, as can the costs for continuing payroll for church employees while repairs are made to your church.
- Coverage Against Accusations of Sexual Abuse
Any organization that works with or around children has the potential risk of being accused of committing a crime against a child, including those of a sexual nature. Accusations can be made even when nothing has actually occurred, but the accusation itself can be damaging and the church must be able to protect itself and its employees or volunteers. Protection against accusations are not included in General Liability coverage, so they are a part of a separate policy.
- Protection for Counselors
Many churches have a counselor on staff, or at least offer counseling services to its parishioners. Providing advice, or professional guidance, can lead to claims against the counselor, even if the counselor did nothing wrong. These types of claims are not covered under General Liability, but are offered as a separate policy.
- Protection for Volunteers
Many churches run on the efforts provided by volunteers, so it is important to ensure that your coverage for injuries or other liability protections extend to these individuals as well.
- Protection Against Employee Injuries
Any organization that has full or part time employees needs a Workers’ Compensation policy, and this includes churches. Even if you are not legally required to purchase this coverage in your state, you could still be held liable for a work related injury. A lack of a legal requirement to buy Workers’ Comp does not remove the church’s liability.
- Flood Coverage
Property policies include coverage for fire or wind damage, but water damage from a flood is covered under a separate Flood insurance policy. You can opt for basic coverage that is sponsored by the National Flood Insurance Program and you can purchase additional Flood insurance coverage for your church. It is important to make sure that you have this protection before a big storm hits, as most policies require a 30 day wait period before the coverage kicks in.
- Employment Practices Liability Insurance
This specialty coverage helps protect the church in the event an employee makes a claim that they are being discriminated against, being retaliated against for filing a complaint, were wrongfully terminated, or makes a sexual harassment claim.
- Event Coverage
Many churches hold special events throughout the year, such as Easter egg hunts or fall festivals. Depending on the nature or location of the event, it may or may not be covered under your current policy. It is also best to make sure that you are working with one of our church insurance specialist, and to contact your agent at the earliest planning stages of the event to ensure your coverage options are enough.
- Coverage for Mission Trips
Mission trips occur across the globe for many churches and are open to numerous members of the congregation. Having coverage for your mission trips can help in a number of situations including:
- Foreign or Domestic Trips: No matter where your mission trips take you, bring your coverage with you.
- Liability: Typical Liability coverages are for domestic issues. Expand your coverage for when mission trips take you outside of the U.S. borders.
- Medical: Injuries can occur anywhere, even abroad, so it is important to make sure those who are traveling on behalf of the church can receive the medical care that they need.
- Kidnap and Ransom Coverage: Mission trips to some developing countries can be dangerous for employees or volunteers who take part in the trip. Kidnap and Ransom coverage provides reimbursement from losses associated with kidnapping, extortion, and hijacking.
- Vehicle Coverage
Personal insurance won’t cover injuries or property damage if the driver is performing work on behalf of the church or driving a church-owned vehicle. Even churches need their own Vehicle insurance policy. Coverage options are similar to that of personal policies including Personal Injury Protection, Property Damage Liability, Collision & Comprehensive, Medical Payments, and Underinsured/Uninsured Motorist Coverage.
- Protection for Your Board Members
This type of coverage is commonly called “Directors and Officers Insurance” and provides protection in the event the board makes a decision, such as the appropriation of funds, and a church member (or a third-party) sues.
- Protection Against Computer Hacking
Major stores and large corporations are not the only targets for data theft. Churches and small businesses are also targets, usually because they are expected to have few security protections in place to protect data they store for their customers, employees, or parishioners. If your church connects to the internet in any way, you are at risk for a data breach and could be held liable for any damages stemming from this breach.
- Coverage Against Large Claims
An Umbrella policy for your church can help pay the gap between what your General Liability (or other liability coverage option) protects up to and what you may be sued or held liable for.
- Coverage Against Monetary Theft
Tithings are commonly accepted during religious services and this monetary gift to the church should be protected against theft from all parties, including members or employees of the church. Typically, most Property insurance policies do not include coverage in the event of a crime but rather a natural event, so a Crime policy is important so that all of your bases are covered.