Injuries and Property Damage: Insurance for When a Volunteer is Involved

Often, we rely on our volunteers’ word that he or she can perform the task at hand, like operate a band saw. Even when using volunteers well-suited to a task, accidents happen. Property can be damaged, or a volunteer can be injured or cause an injury.

“Because ministries routinely count on volunteers for facility upkeep or activity supervision and organization, we see a higher volume of claims involving volunteers for our insureds,” says Dave Lantz, vice president of claims, Brotherhood Mutual. Lantz says that because volunteers are not employees, they aren’t entitled to many of the same workplace protections, like workers’ compensation*. So, when a volunteer gets injured doing ministry work, or injures someone while volunteering for your ministry, who pays? 

Claims involving volunteers generally can be divided into two categories:

  1. A liability claim naming a volunteer if he or she injures someone or damages another’s property 
  2.  A medical claim by a volunteer who sustains an injury

Volunteers are often the heartbeat of your ministry. Just as it is with employees, it’s important for your ministry to know what coverages apply to an injured volunteer and how your ministry is financially protected from claims of injury. 

Insurance for Volunteer Liability 

General liability insurance covers claims of injury or property damage occurring on ministry property or resulting from ministry activities. Liability policies and how they relate to volunteers can differ, so it’s important to talk to your insurance agent.

In general, liability insurance financially protects your ministry if a volunteer:

  • Damages another’s property.
  • Causes personal or bodily injury to another.
  • Fails to provide proper supervision of children or adults.
  • Improperly prepares or serves food, resulting in sickness or disease.

In some cases, you can increase protection for volunteers engaged in security operations, relief work activities, or lay counseling. 

Medical Payments Coverage for Volunteer Injuries

Medical payments coverage is not the same as liability insurance, although most liability policies offer this feature. Typically referred to as “med pay,” it applies to a volunteer’s medical bills if an injury occurs while a volunteer is serving with your ministry. 

Medical payments coverage and optional accident insurance policies generally pay for costs related to injuries regardless of fault. The injured volunteer benefits, but the ministry benefits, too. By offering medical payments coverage to an injured volunteer, your ministry:

  • Increases goodwill.
  • Decreases the chance of a lawsuit.
  • Shows appreciation for the vital role volunteers play.


Some Brotherhood Mutual coverages extend or increase medical payment limits for volunteers. Talk to your agent about your endorsements and how they affect volunteers. 

*Workers’ Compensation generally applies only to employees; volunteers are not covered in most states. If workers’ comp coverage is available for volunteers in your state, ask if it’s already an endorsement on your policy.

Coverage descriptions are intended to help ministry leaders better understand how various insurance coverages work. This information does not provide insurance coverage of any kind, nor do they modify the terms of any Brotherhood Mutual policy form. Some coverages may be optional or require additional premium. You must refer to the declarations pages on your policy to accurately determine which coverage options you have purchased. Some coverages may not be available in all states. For complete coverage details, please refer to actual policy forms.