Key Insurance Issues for Churches and Schools - Rekerdres and Associates

church key issuesWorking with church leaders, school presidents, and board members over the past several years, we’ve been able to develop a sense for their primary insurance concerns. Below summarizes the main points and offers some insight:

  • Affordable premiums – First on the list for a reason…this is always a key question for the insurance purchaser. What’s the cost? As far as determining the rate, a myriad of factors are considered, and especially for a risk as complex as a church or school, rate calculation is not a simple thing. The best advice I can give a church or school comes down to risk control. Think through every aspect of business operation, ministry operation, facility maintenance, and ask yourself, “Would this cause the insurance company to be nervous?” If the honest answer is ‘yes’, consider how you can make improvements.  As the agent, where we help is regarding relationships with insurance companies. It’s important that your agent 1) has a strong knowledge of the church/school insurance marketplace [major players, which markets are performing well] and 2) strong relationships with those markets (If they don’t trust you, you won’t get favorable pricing/coverages).
  • Professional Liability coverages (D&O Liability, Pastoral Professional, Educator’s Legal, Abuse/Misconduct) – Certain professional liability and management liability coverages are key for a church or school, since General Liability does not cover these exposures. For example, a church board decision that directly alters church operations would be held responsible in the event of a lawsuit related to those changes. This situation would need to be covered by Directors and Officers insurance. If a pastor is counseling a church member, and the some terrible tradgedy (ie – suicide) ties back to the counseling sessions, pastoral professional liability coverage would need to be in place to cover the church. Same kind of idea goes for Educator’s Legal Liability (liability for teaching activity) and Abuse/Misconduct Liability (liability for harm done against children or minors). Professional or management liability insurance coverage is needed for these situations.
  • Wind/Hail coverage – As an agent operating primarily in the DFW area, wind/hail coverage is always on the forefront of the mind when considering property insurance.  Right now, a 1% to 2% wind/hail deductible is pretty normal…with some companies occasionally slapping on a 5% deductible. Churches are a definitely facing this, with many houses of worship having a large roof exposure, as well as ornaments such as stained glass, steeples, etc. One piece of advice – insurance companies like a clean loss history, especially on something as costly as a hail claim. Insurance is meant to cover disastrous events, so think twice before turning in a claim that you can fix yourself, especially if you know the repairs will cost less than paying the deductible.
  • Business Auto Insurance – Churches and schools often operate 15-passenger vans and mini-buses to commute elderly and disabled church members to and from Sunday service. The vehicles are also used to take trips to participate in school events and conferences. A few words of advice – find competent drivers and request they complete training typically available through your insurance carrier or an online outfit. This is great preparation, and typically free.