How to Buy Church Insurance
As a ministry leader, you’re focused on meeting the needs of the community you serve. Sometimes, administrative responsibilities like making insurance decisions can seem overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to work with an insurance agent and carrier that you can trust to understand your ministry’s unique insurance needs. When buying insurance to protect your ministry, consider the insurance agent, the insurance company he or she represents, and the insurance program offered.
Know Your Options
Who does your insurance agent work for? The answer should be you, not the insurance company.
Basically, there are two types of insurance agents—captive and independent. A captive agent is a paid employee of the insurance company he or she represents. An independent agent isn’t. He or she can sell products from several insurance companies.
In order to be sure that your insurance representative is looking out for your best interests, choose an independent agent over a captive agent. Also, look for an insurance agent who specializes in church insurance. He or she will be familiar with the unique coverages your ministry needs.
How To Select An Agent
Once you know what kind of insurance agent to look for, you can start talking to representatives to find the right specialist for your ministry. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Have the agent establish his or her credentials as one who specializes in church insurance. A church specialist represents a church specialty insurance company and insures numerous churches. Ask for client references.
- Don’t favor agents just because they reside in your community. Local agents may know your community, but they may not understand the special insurance needs of churches.
- Ask the agent what risk management services he or she offers that can help your ministry stay safe and reduce losses.
How To Select An Insurance Company
Just as you should select an agent who specializes in church insurance, you should also choose a company that specializes in church insurance.
Brotherhood Mutual is a specialty insurance company that devotes its resources to serving the needs of America’s churches and related ministries. The company provides special training for its agents and offers additional services to help churches manage risks.
Brotherhood Mutual offers customized insurance programs to meet the unique needs of churches like yours. Other insurance companies sell policies that are designed for businesses—without modifying or adding the specialized coverages that your ministry needs.
Now that you’re working with an insurance agent that you trust, ask him or her to explain your options for insurance carriers. Here are some things to keep in mind as you consider your decision:
- Did your agent establish the credentials of the insurance company as one that specializes in insuring churches and related ministries?
- Is the company is financially sound? The A.M. Best Company rating indicates financial stability and operating performance. The strongest insurance companies are rated A (excellent) or higher.
- Does the company have a reputation for stability? Investigate the company’s reputation for providing coverage year after year, without increasing rates dramatically or canceling clients after they have a claim.
Any insurance carrier can offer coverage, but is it comprehensive enough to meet your ministry’s unique needs? That’s why it’s important to work with an agent and a company that specialize in serving churches and related ministries. As you’re considering your coverage options, look for these basics:
- Property/liability package that’s customized for churches
- Automobile policy for church-owned vehicles. You need hired and nonowned auto liability coverage, even if your church doesn’t own any vehicles
- Workers’ compensation policy
- Umbrella/excess liability policy (for high-limits protection)
- Church accident policy (extra coverage for medical expenses resulting from an injury during a church activity)
Automobile, workers’ compensation, umbrella/excess, and accident policies are fairly similar. However, property/ liability package policies vary widely, so you need to carefully evaluate these with your insurance agent.
How To Select An Insurance Package
Insurance is not an easy topic to grasp. You should rely on your agent to help you understand all aspects of your insurance policy, both property and liability.
Standard policies may not provide adequate coverage for pastors’ personal property, unlimited glass breakage, church personal property at a parsonage, water damage from baptistry overflow, or medical coverage for volunteer labor. Discuss these things with your agent, to make sure your ministry is properly covered.
Make sure that your policy offers special endorsements for additional coverages, too:
- Pastoral counseling liability
- Directors and officers’ liability
- Equipment breakdown coverage
- Day care liability
- Christian school coverage
Check that the policy doesn’t exclude or provide low limits for claims that are a result of sexual misconduct allegations against the church.
Your insurance agent is your best source of knowledge when it comes to your insurance protection as well as safety and risk management issues within your ministry. Be sure to consult with him or her on a regular basis, so you can make sure your ever-changing, ever-growing ministry is properly covered.