Thanks to the pandemic, many churches saw a dramatic drop in donations, with some faith organizations receiving 75% less than usual.
If you are at the head of a faith organization, then you probably know that many churches have less in their kitty than people assume. Most churches have to spend a large amount of their budget purely on running costs. Research has shown that the average church has to devote 82% of its budget to personnel, buildings, and administration expenses.
This doesn't leave a lot leftover for the meeting safety risks.
No matter how large or small your church's budget is, it's always a smart move to insure against the unforeseen.
Having insurance not only protects you in cases of liability, but it also means you can easily compensate members of your flock should they suffer injury.
Ready to get informed on the safety risks your church needs to insure for? Keep reading as we outline nine types of risks and injuries you need church insurance for.
One of the first safety risks churches need to insure for is employee injuries.
Most states require churches to purchase workers' compensation insurance. However, even if your state doesn't require employee injury insurance, you should still consider carrying it.
Firstly, if a church employee gets injured on the job, you would of course want to compensate them for their injury. What's more, having workers' comp also protects you against any potential employee lawsuits.
Accidents can happen at any time, even in low-risk settings, which churches typically are. Churches do have some jobs that entail more risk. Working with hot water, lifting heaving items, using a stove, cleaning on ladders, and even hanging decorations are just some examples of activities where accidents can occur.
Another area of safety risks that churches are wise to insure for is volunteer injuries. Just because volunteers aren't paid employees doesn't mean that you can't be liable if something goes wrong.
Volunteers are often more at risk of accidents and injuries than employees. This is because they aren't necessarily experienced, trained, or qualified.
For instance, say you get some of your congregation to help move items donated to the church. Unlike professional movers, the volunteers aren't trained in moving safety practices. They probably also don't have the back braces and other gear that professional movers would.
Therefore, make sure you speak to your insurance agent on coverage for volunteers, as this is can be one of the most important types of insurance for a church to take out.
Another area of risk that volunteers may bring is their behavior. Although they aren't paid, they represent the church publicly and engage with people on its behalf. Volunteers often do things like visiting the sick and the elderly and delivering food to the needy.
While dealing with the public, there is a risk that volunteers might cause unintentional harm to others. This could be either emotional or physical. If this occurs and the injured party presses a claim, in some situations, it could be the church that is liable.
Although outside criminal activity is not a church's fault, injured parties can sometimes make a liability claim if it appears that the church did not adequately try to prevent crime on its premises.
For instance, muggers often like to target vulnerable members of the community in quiet parking lots. If a mugger robs someone in the church parking lot in the dark, the injured party could place partial blame on you for not protecting the church property with proper illumination.
Slip and Fall Accidents
When it comes to litigation Jesus's advice was "If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well" (Matt. 5:40, NIV).
However, this does not mean that churches shouldn't take out insurance to protect themselves and their congregations. If you take out liability insurance for your church, this will protect it from lawsuits, and unexpected liability payments.
It will also ensure that anyone who has a slip and fall accident is paid out compensation for their injuries.
Vehicle Accidents and Injuries
Another area of liability for a church that insurance can protect against is vehicle accidents and deaths. If you have a church vehicle and it gets into an accident, this might cause injury to passengers.
In most cases, comprehensive or "full coverage" accident insurance will cover injury claims of passengers as long as medical coverage is included. Confirm with your agent that you have proper coverage.
Personal Injury Through Spiritual Counseling
Although pastors offer spiritual counseling, they aren't licensed, mental health professionals. If a congregation member suffers mental, emotional, or physical injury through spiritual counseling, even if this is entirely unintentional, the church could be liable.
To cover these kinds of risks, the church should consider taking out pastoral counseling insurance. This is a form of errors and omissions insurance.
Does your church perform burials or cremations? If so, you should also look into getting cemetery professional liability insurance.
This can protect you against liability from:
- Mental/emotional injury
Some of these liabilities might be covered by other insurance types you hold. However, make sure you check with your insurance advisor about what additional coverage you need.
When it comes to church security, it's important not to forget about cybersecurity. Cyber attacks can open up a can of worms when it comes to liability, especially where personal information is concerned.
The first line of defense is to take as many cybersecurity measures as you can. However, even the best internet security solutions aren't watertight, and the more users there are on your systems, the greater the risk.
To ensure that your church isn't hit by hefty claims, it is wise to also take out insurance against cyber-attack-related liabilities.
Cyber insurance generally covers costs related to notifying affected parties, defending litigation cases, compensating losses, fines, penalties, credit monitoring, data destruction costs, and cyber extortion.
Guard Your Church From These Safety Risks With the Right Insurance
Places of worship are typically safe havens to their members. However, churches face a number of safety risks, including injuries, accidents, and cyber attacks.
However, you can protect church property and your congregation from these by taking out the right coverage for both liability and property damage.
Not sure who to call? We specialize in church insurance.
Contact us and we will work with you to establish exactly what coverage your faith organization needs.