Understanding Insurance

Insurance can be complicated. We’re here to help you understand the basics, so you can make the best decision for your ministry.

 

What am I buying?

An insurance policy is an agreement between your ministry and an insurance company. It’s a contract. For example, if your building catches fire, your insurance company promises to help you restore or replace it, so that your ministry doesn’t bear the overwhelming expense alone.

Not all insurance policies are alike. Some policies may be better suited to a business than to a church. Because Christian churches, schools, and camps face unique risks, consider working with an insurance agent who understands the needs of Christian ministries like yours.

What should I look for in an insurance company?

Look for a company that keeps its promises. You want an insurance policy backed by a company that’s financially sound, provides excellent service, and specializes in meeting the needs of ministries.

  • Financial stability. A company’s A.M. Best rating is a good indicator of its financial stability. The A.M. Best Company is an independent company that has been determining the ability of insurance companies to pay claims since 1899. Like a report card, it annually issues grades ranging from A++ (Superior) to F (In Liquidation) to denote a company’s financial state. For your financial security, choose a highly rated company.
  • Excellent service. When you need to file an insurance claim, you need a company that is quick and compassionate. Your agent should be able to provide three or four customers who can give testimonials about their claims experience with your company. Ask them whether their claims were handled fairly, in an appropriate amount of time, and with concern for their needs. Find out how well adjusters were able to answer their questions and address any concerns. Talk to your peers at other churches—the information they provide may help you determine which insurance company is right for you.
  • Ministry specialization. Most people with a heart condition would seek care from a cardiologist rather than a general practitioner. That’s because a doctor who specializes in heart problems knows the best ways to treat them. Likewise, a company that specializes in church insurance understands your risks better than anyone else. This means you’re more likely to get the highest level of coverage for your insurance dollar.

How is a mutual insurance company different from other types of companies?

A mutual insurance company is not owned by shareholders, but rather by policyholders—the customers the company serves.

As a mutual company, we at Brotherhood Mutual hold ourselves accountable to our policyholders, and the promise that we’ll be here for them when they need us most. Our customers’ insurance premium dollars go into a policy reserve fund, and that money is used to protect and rebuild after policyholders suffer losses. To paraphrase Galatians 6:2, our customers’ premium dollars help to bear the burdens of other Christian ministries.

What should I look for in an insurance agent?

A good agent can be a valuable asset. Choose one who is independent, understands risk management, and specializes in church insurance.

  • Independent. Some agents are independent, while others represent a single insurance company. An independent agent can select from a wide range of insurance companies and choose the one that will best meet your ministry’s needs.
  • Understands risk management. Ask your agent what risk management services he or she provides. Is the agent willing to visit your church and offer suggestions on how best to protect your people and your property? Does the agent have access to a trained risk management staff?
  • Specializes in working with ministries. By choosing a ministry specialist, you’ll save the time and frustration of explaining your ministry to someone who doesn’t understand how it works. If you’re considering starting a new ministry, such as housing the homeless or playing paintball with your youth group, a church specialist can alert you to possible risks and recommend proper coverage. He or she may also share your values.

When interviewing potential agents, ask to speak to a few of their customers. By talking to the agents’ customers, you may learn whether you’re dealing with a salesperson or a trained professional. The agent should be able to provide several customer references. Determine how satisfied the customers are with their agent. Are calls returned promptly? Is the agent knowledgeable, able, and willing to answer questions? If there has been a claim, was it handled quickly, fairly, and courteously? Has the agent become familiar with the ministry?

 

Wondering what all those insurance terms mean?

The insurance industry uses a lot of specific terminology. This can make navigating the insurance world confusing. Here's a list of terms and definitions that can help you better understand your ministry insurance options.

Visit the Glossary
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