Insurance for a Church is not an easy find
Insuring a church is vastly complicated, and is only becoming more so. A great deal goes into providing even the most basic of services. The range of circumstances requiring insurance is easily underestimated, and doing so can lead to financial ruin. Property, buildings, equipment, automobiles, employees, volunteers, travel… all of these are important parts of the functioning of a church, and they all require insurance in order to properly protect a church’s financial well-being.
Before consulting with an insurer, if your church has a governing body or is part of a larger diocese, contact those in charge, as a specific insurance agency may already have been chosen. Smaller organizations and independent churches should seek out an experienced commercial agent. While it is tempting to contract with a well-meaning congregant who is experienced in auto or home insurance, doing so can lead to serious oversights, due to the complexity of insuring a church. Contracting with a commercial agent is a must.
We are here to help!
At Harrington Insurance, we understand the specific needs of your institution. We have 41 years experience insuring churches and will make sure nothing is missed in your coverage that could be costly in the future. We don’t want you to worry about what kind of coverage your choir robes need, or what kind of liability you need to consider when hosting financial classes. We’ll take care of those things, and let you focus on your ministry. We’ll find you the best deal to save you money, and be there along the way.
For a church, insurance coverage breaks down into two broad categories: property and people. The actual church is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to church property: gathering halls, parking structures, living quarters for clergy, automobiles, equipment, even valuable or irreplaceable artifacts must not be overlooked.
When looking into insuring church property and buildings, have an agent make an assessment of the current value. The amount of a mortgage or the price last paid for the property may be far smaller than the current value. Is the structure historic, or contain a great deal of expensive installed equipment (pews, audio-visual systems, appliances)? All of these factor into the assessed value of the property.
What Type of Coverage Do I Need
When discussing coverage of property with an agent, make note of what their coinsurance policy is. If you insure the property for too little, your submitted claim will be heavily penalized. If you insure your church for 250,000 dollars, and then later submit a claim for 100,000 dollars in damages (due to fire or some other occurrence), and the insurance company determines that the total value of the property is 500,000 dollars—twice what you insured it for—then the amount of your claim will be halved, and you will only receive 50,000 dollars. If possible, in your insurance policy, negotiate an “agreed value” with the insurer—this eliminates the potential for coinsurance penalties.
Make sure that your church property is covered for all circumstances that are likely in your area. Separate coverage for flood, earthquake, or hurricanes may be necessary, and not covered in your primary policy. Ensure that your policy covers accidental damage, such as burst pipes or fires. Insuring systems that are costly to repair or replace—boilers, furnaces—is also a wise idea. You must also decide whether you want to insure the property for the replacement cost, or the actual cash value of the property. If the church is older, the latter choice is advisable. Consult with your agent, and ask questions.
When it comes to insuring the people affiliated with your church, the situation is even more complex. For employees, there is the need for workers compensation and health insurance. For the larger corpus of all of those who act on behalf of the church—not just clergy, but the church board, volunteers, etc.—there is the need for liability insurance for allegations of injury, employment discrimination, sexual abuse, car accidents, legal defense costs, and so on.
Do NOT rely upon the kindness of your congregation. It may be hard to imagine a member filing a costly claim against you, but even the most sympathetic of church members may not be able to afford not filing a claim against your church for damages resulting from physical or emotional injury. Insure yourself—literally and metaphorically—against all possibilities that may arise.
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