Gauge What's True

Debunking the Myths About Church Insurance

Understanding your church insurance options can be challenging—especially when myths about how it works cause confusion. With accurate information, you can make decisions with more clarity and confidence.

Our hope is that by debunking these myths, and by letting you know that your Brotherhood Mutual agent can help separate fact from fiction, you'll ultimately get the right coverage and services for your needs.

Myth #1: We don’t need liability insurance. No one would sue a church.

Churches may have enjoyed some immunity from lawsuits in the past, but that’s not the reality anymore. Just like any other public gathering place, a church could get sued if someone were to get injured by slipping on an icy sidewalk or falling down stairs. Churches have also been sued for the sexual misconduct of former employees and volunteers.

If a church wants to protect itself against the expense of a devastating legal judgment, investing in a comprehensive liability insurance policy is a wise move.

Myth #2: Our benefits should roughly equal the premiums we’ve paid.

If you pay premiums for years without making a claim, you may feel that you’re not really “using” your insurance. But remember why you buy insurance. It’s not to pay small claims that you could afford within your annual operating budget.

It’s to help your ministry survive a devastating event, such as a fire or tornado that destroys ministry buildings. In such a scenario, your insurance would help you rebuild, plus cover the operating expenses required to keep your ministry going at another location. 

Your benefits will far exceed any premiums you have paid, and you’ll be grateful you had coverage. If you wish to reduce your premiums, consider opting for a higher property deductible, such as $1,000 instead of $500. This would reduce your insurance premium and make you less likely to file claims for issues that cost less than $1,000 to repair.

Myth #3: Our insurance policy will cover everything that could possibly happen.

Even the best insurance policy can’t promise total protection. While your standard church insurance policy will repair or replace your building if it’s struck by lightning, fire, high winds, or even a terrorist’s bomb, it won’t pay for earthquake- or flood-related damage. You’ll need supplemental policies for those risks. Some events aren’t even covered by supplemental insurance.

The only way to know exactly what’s covered and what’s not is to read your policy. If that seems daunting, consult an insurance agent who is knowledgeable about ministry needs and can explain insurance concepts in layman’s terms.

Myth #4: All insurance companies are the same

While many companies offer property and casualty insurance, they can differ drastically in the types of coverage they offer, their knowledge about ministry needs, and their financial ability to pay claims.

An insurer that specializes in ministry insurance will be better at identifying and managing risks unique to churches than a company that primarily insures standard businesses. A company rated “A” or better by the A.M. Best Company will be more financially stable than one with a “B” or “C” rating.

To make sure you get the best company for your ministry, call others insured by the company and ask about their experience.

Myth #5: Less is more

Buying the minimum amount of liability insurance required might seem like a good idea. If you think you’ll never get sued, it makes sense to keep your premiums as low as possible.

But saving a few dollars on premiums could cost you a lot. For example, if you carry no liability insurance on church vehicles—or very little—a simple traffic accident could put your ministry’s assets at risk.

Let’s say that the church van blows a tire and rolls over in a ditch. Several people are severely injured; one is paralyzed. Your church could be found responsible for paying the victims’ medical expenses, lost income, and care for the rest of their lives.

If a court orders a higher judgment against the church than your insurance policy provides, your ministry’s assets could be pursued.

Myth #6: My liability insurance rates will be similar to other churches in my denomination

Insurance rates are individually determined, so factors such as membership size, type of activities offered, frequency of activities, and risk of activities will be considered, as well as the presence of a screening program for prospective employees and volunteers.

Each ministry’s situation is unique, so liability insurance rates will vary.