Insurance for Churches: A Complete Guide

When pastors plant a church, they often have grand visions for its future. They imagine the good they can do for their community. They think of ways to reach out to young families and keep them involved.

During all these dreams, however, churches must also remember the practical considerations. Like any other business or nonprofit, churches have daily necessities that keep the place running.

One of those necessities is insurance for churches. Church insurance must cover several contingencies, whether it’s protecting the building or the staff.

Don’t worry if you’re not sure what insurance policies your church needs! In this guide, we’ll explore the types of policies you may need and how much they cost. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Who Needs Church Insurance?

Before we cover what types of insurance a church needs, it’s beneficial to know who may need this coverage. Church insurance applies to several established religious organizations. These can include temples, synagogues, mosques, and nonprofit ministries.

These organizations require insurance to protect their property, assets, and personal interactions. However, church insurance also applies to less established circles. For example, there’s currently a growing movement of house churches. While homeowners’ insurance would typically cover informal prayer circles or Bible studies, a house church is different. Since it may accept donations or have a pastor who offers advice to attendees, church insurance is essential.

Likewise, preachers who travel between locations also may need some church insurance policies. Inland marine insurance can also help them cover any property they keep in transit.

How Insurance for Churches Works

When religious organizations seek insurance, they typically require multiple policies to cover all their bases. Each parish or campus varies in its needs, so it’ll be up to individual leaders and committees to assess the church’s needs.

In the next few sections, we’ll explore the most common insurance policies that religious organizations need. To start, let’s talk about a business owner’s policy.

Business Owner’s Insurance

Business owner’s policies (BOP) essentially bundle several individual policies into a single coverage plan. Typically, this grouping includes general liability and commercial property insurance. You may also see business interruption coverage included.

What are the advantages of this policy? When you get BOP, your church receives essential protection for a lower cost than individual policies would afford. It also reduces the number of policies that the church committees need to monitor.

One of the essential policies in a BOP bundle is general liability coverage. With this, your church insurance covers third-party property damage, potential bodily harm, or advertising harm like defamation.

General liability may also cover the injured person’s medical or repair bills. Essentially, this insurance keeps your organization safe from accusations of harm lodged by other parties.

Next up is commercial property insurance. This policy protects your building from third-party damages. For example, let’s say your church has beautiful stained glass windows.

Late at night, somebody may walk by and decide to throw a rock through your windows. In cases like these, commercial property insurance would cover the damages.

Professional Liability Insurance

Pastors, priests, rabbis, and other clergy members don’t simply lead services and preach sermons. In many cases, they also act as spiritual counselors. Because of this, they remain open to many of the same dangers a therapist may face.

Chief among those threats is the fear of negligence claims. If a parishioner decides to file a suit against you, professional liability insurance can cover you. How exactly does this work? Professional liability insurance provides you with funds up

to a certain limit. With this money, your provider can pay for legal defense costs and judgments.

It can also work with the claimant to reach a financial settlement. However, understand that it will only offer as much money as the limit provides. Beyond that point, you or your organization will have to find other funds.

Worker’s Compensation

Does your church have or intend to hire workers who remain in the church building? These could include secretaries, janitors, or pastoral staff. If your church runs a school or afterschool program, it could also include your teachers and workers.

If you have any of these people on your payroll, worker’s compensation insurance becomes a necessity. This policy helps keep your workers financially safe in the event they become injured on the job.

What will it cover? Typically, this coverage handles any medical expenses the injured worker may incur. It also helps keep them financially compensated for the time they spend recovering.

Vehicular Insurance

Many churches own a bus or van they use to transport mission teams or retreat groups. If your church owns vehicles, you’ll also need to insure them. Your organization will need a business auto policy to cover this exposure.

Factors Affecting Insurance Costs

One of the principal factors affecting insurance costs is the size of the congregation. The average church in America has less than 300 members.

For example, churches with less than 300 members can expect a coverage amount of $1million-$2 million for general liability coverage. However, other factors affect your coverage amounts and premium costs.

Some of these factors include:

  • The size of your board, since more members increases the risk of a lawsuit
  • Claims history can affect premium costs, with more claims charging higher premiums
  • Services you provide, like counseling, food pantries, daycare, and mission trips, may also increase premiums
  • The value of your property can also increase your premium costs

Considering each of these factors can prove stressful for pastors and board members. If you’re unsure what policies to pursue, consult with insurance providers to get the most accurate information.

Finding Your Insurance Provider

We hope this church insurance guide has helped you! With this information, you can better understand what insurance policies your house of worship will require.

All that’s left is to find a provider that can give you the coverage you need. If you meet in North Carolina, consider our services!

We are a church insurance company that specializes in the policies your congregation needs. Contact us today to learn more!