Church Liability Insurance and its Coverage

Church Liability Insurance

Church Liability Insurance provides coverage for personal injury and property damage liability that either occurs on church property or because of an employee’s or volunteer’s actions. This critical protection will shield the church from financial ruin if a parishioner or outside party tries to sue.

Whether someone falls and is injured on the church grounds, a volunteer hurts someone at the local bake sale, or a church vehicle hits a telephone pole, these are all circumstances where the church could be open to a lawsuit. Church liability insurance would pay for legal assistance as well as the damages or injuries if it is ruled that the church was at fault.

Unfortunately many church officers believe that parishioners of their church aren’t likely to instigate a lawsuit against the church. Unfortunately if someone is injured and needs care, or their property damaged, they likely will seek restitution. Consider if your child was injured enough to be hospitalized after participation in a church function or just attending Sunday school. Whether or not there was negligence, most parents would sue in order to take care of the medical bills and care of the child.

Besides that, not everyone who comes through the church doors are parishioners, and the employees and volunteers for the church also touch the lives of those who aren’t in the congregation.

Professional Services Liability Insurance

Church Liability Insurance and its CoverageOften this type of church liability insurance is called Acts, Errors and Omissions Coverage. It may also be known as Pastoral Liability Insurance. Typically to get pastoral liability coverage the clergy has to be licensed or ordained. Without this, “clergy privilege” can be debated. The clergy will need to have the church provide professional liability insurance, particularly if the clergy has a degree in psychiatry, psychology, or something similar. This protects the church from lawsuits if someone believes they are hurt through any counseling.

This type of insurance can protect the church and its clergy from the following:

  • Child Abuse Reporting Lawsuits – what is covered and what isn’t should be discussed with the agent. In some states and regions you can be put in jail if you don’t report child abuse as a crime.
  • Counseling Malpractice
  • Defamation
  • Diversion of Funds
  • Invasion of Privacy
  • Misappropriation of funds
  • Sexual Misconduct

Volunteer Liability Insurance

This area of liability insurance may require you to speak at length with a lawyer, insurance agent and/or broker to determine what works best for the congregation based on how volunteers are utilized. Volunteer coverage may also be based on state requirements. Many insurers that provide volunteer liability insurance require the church to follow at least a few rules in order for coverage to be granted. These rules may include:

  • Volunteer applications
  • Background Checks
  • Signed Waivers saying that the volunteer won’t sue the church

Speak to your agent about these requirements. There are some insurance companies that will allow the church to use the above services through the policy provider at either no charge or at a reduced charge.

Church Liability Insurance Issues

As congregations consider their liability policies it is important to check what liability coverage you currently have and to set a time every year to update the policy and even get competitive quotes on the policy. In today’s world just about anyone can instigate a lawsuit, and if children are injured or hurt then the judgments can escalate in worth.

Whether you are in charge of a church, temple, or mosque, if you have day care or any type of school that is ran, sponsored by the church, or simply on church grounds…then you need to really understand what your church liability insurance covers and what the limits are.

Whether or not the lawsuit is frivolous, you will still need to address it and typically will be required to hire legal support. Church liability insurance can help you pay for legal council at this point and throughout the lawsuit proceedings. But some preplanning and research is needed to protect your church. There are many insurance companies that have reassessed policy limits and restriction when it comes to molestation and sexual abuse.

Check with your carrier and if you don’t have protection from the above, get coverage add it to your current liability

Summary

Church liability insurance can come in the form of a general policy but there are also specific areas that may have to be addressed under additional policies or riders. This includes covering the profession of clergy by having pastoral or professional liability insurance. Other areas that need to be considered include the volunteers of your church and their actions and responsibilities, and covering the church from lawsuits featuring sexual abuse and molestation.

Churches should never overlook liability insurance by hoping that parishioners won’t sue the church. Church liability insurance needs to be reviewed and updated often.

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