Church Insurance: Cost, Coverage & Top Companies

Like any other business, churches need to protect their assets. However, it’s not as easy as asking an agent to provide church insurance. You will need multiple policies that are tailored to your risk. In the event of an injury, general liability is required by most churches. The average cost of this policy is $500 to $1500 per year.

Online brokers such as CoverWallet make insurance easy for churches, mosques and other religious groups. CoverWallet will match you with a carrier that offers the right coverage for your organization.

Visit CoverWallet

Top Insurance Companies

Provider Best for
CoverWallet Religious groups that wish to quickly get covered but still compare offers
State Farm Churches who need comprehensive property insurance to cover equipment breakdown and sewer backup
Brotherhood Mutual Christian churches who want overseas mission coverage for liability, property and medical purposes
Church Mutual Insurance To reduce the number of claims, worship centers may need assistance with safety training.
Gateway Specialty Insurance Multiple options are available for religious organizations who want to tailor their coverage

The risks faced by churches, synagogues and mosques as well as other religious organisations are unique. We focused on specialty carriers because they have the best reputation for covering these types of risks. This is because they have extensive industry knowledge and can usually offer adequate coverage at an affordable price.

CoverWallet

There are common risks within the industry such as older buildings and high-value artifacts. Also, congregations have high expectations. This makes it difficult to find church insurance. We recommend that you submit an application with an online broker CoverWallet. It is simple to complete and can often result in multiple offers that you can compare in a matter of minutes. The applicant can choose the best option for them.

 

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State Farm

State Farm provides broad coverages to religious organizations, especially when it comes down to church property insurance. Churches are also covered for common exposures like equipment breakdown and sewer backups. You can also get optional coverage for data breaches and cemetery liability.

Brotherhood Mutual

Brotherhood Mutual is in the business of protecting Christian churches for over 100 years. The company’s 350 independent agents from 47 states are trained to assess ministry structures, liabilities, risks, and find the right coverage for churches. Brotherhood Mutual offers insurance for overseas missions that provides coverage for liability lawsuits and ministry-owned property and vehicles. It also covers medical payments for injured workers and political evacuations.

Church Mutual Insurance

Church Mutual has more insured religious institutions than any other American insurance company and offers many property- and liability insurance policies that are specifically tailored for common church exposures. Church Mutual’s most distinctive offering is its safety library. It includes everything from background checks and water sensors to abuse awareness training through its MinistrySafe and CM Sensors Program. These resources are great for churches who want to reduce claims and control costs.

Gateway Specialty Insurance

Gateway Specialty Insurance, a Berkshire Hathaway brokerage, partners with 17 insurance companies to offer quality insurance for niche markets. Gateway Specialty has relationships with specialty insurance companies, so Gateway Specialty can customize your church insurance according to your needs. You can also add coverage for equipment breakdown and business income to the standard insurance policies for churches.

Who needs church insurance?

We use the term “church insurance” in a broad sense. Church insurance can be used to cover religious organisations of any kind, such as synagogues, temples, mosques, and temples. Some non-traditional practices may also be eligible for insurance. Because they are often in contact with people and have property, religious organisations need insurance to protect their assets.

These are some less-common spiritual practices that might require insurance.

  • Travel preacher: Preachers that travel between places will likely need the following policies, as well as inland marine insurance which covers property while in transit.
  • Home churches. Homeowners insurance typically covers an informal prayer group, but churches that receive donations or are linked to a larger organisation will need church insurance.
  • Yoga and meditation, tai-chi and meditation: These spiritual practices will likely require business insurance. Learn more about yoga and our insurance guide .

How insurance works for churches

Multiple policies can be used to insure churches and other religious organisations. You determine the risks of your organization and choose policies that will cover them. A business owner’s policy (BOP), which covers third-party lawsuits as well as damage to church property, is the most common and typically costs between $1,000 and $2,600 annually.

Although BOPs are important for churches, they’re not the only type of insurance religious organizations require. The exposures your temple or church has will determine which type of insurance they need. Exposure is how much potential loss your organization faces. This can often be determined by your operations.

Let’s take, for example, the fact that your clergy offers spiritual counseling. While this may be an important aspect of your ministry, it could also expose your organization to negligence claims. You can purchase professional liability insurance for your defense costs.

Church Insurance Costs

Insurance costs for religious institutions vary widely because no two religious institutions are the same. Small churches can often save money by choosing an insurer that specializes on religious organizations, or a broker who offers church insurance programs. Brokers can often get affordable coverage for small organizations by grouping together many churches.

Church Insurance Costs and Deductibles according to Coverage Type

 

Type of coverage Maximum Coverage Annual Premium Cost Deductible
General Liability Insurance $1 million/$2 million From $500 to $1,500 From $0 to $500
BOP $1 million/$2 million From $200 to $1,000 $10,000**
Pastoral Professional Liability Insurance $1 million/$2 million From $800 to $1000 From $500 to $1,000
D&O Insurance $1 million/$2 million From $500 to $1,000 From $500 to $1,000
Abuse & Molestation Insurance $300,000. From $100 to $300 From $0 to $500

*General liability coverage does not usually include a deductible. To keep your costs down, however, you might be able request one.

 

**Property Deductible for BOP

This table displays the average premiums for churches that have fewer than 300 members. There are two limits for general liability, pastoral liability and D&O insurance. The first limit is the amount that insurers will pay for a single claim, while the second is the total amount paid for all claims during the policy term. Because abuse and molestation coverage is often added to general liability or professional liability, it is listed as a “sublimit”.

Your premium for liability coverages will be affected by the size of your congregation.

  • Your board size: More board members means you need more insurance, as it increases your chance of being sued.
  • Your claims history When setting your premium, insurers consider how many claims you have made in the past. Insurance waivers and other risk management methods can help reduce claims.
  • The services that you offer: Both individual and group counseling can increase your premium. However, other ministries such as food pantries and daycares can also raise your premium.
  • You policy terms: Increasing your premium by asking for higher limits. In contrast, a lower deductible will usually lower your premium.
  • Your property’s value: A synagogue that owns valuable artifacts will pay more for commercial property coverage than one that rents only a storefront.

The Most Popular Types of Church Insurance

Types of insurance What it covers
General Liability Insurance Third-party claims for bodily injury and property damage
Commercial Property Insurance Assured value of business-owned properties
Pastoral Professional Liability Insurance Professional negligence allegations
Directors & Officers Insurance When a board member is sued for actions taken for the organization, it will be their legal defense
Commercial Auto Insurance Accidents in church-owned vehicles can lead to high costs
Workers’ Compensation Insurance Loss of wages and medical expenses for employees resulting from work-related injuries and illnesses
Abuse & Molestation Insurance Civil lawsuits: Sexual misconduct allegations

General Liability Insurance

Third-party property damage and bodily injury insurance covers these claims. People who are not employees of your organization are called third parties. Congregants are the most common example, but any person who visits your church, such as delivery people or event attendees, can be considered a third party.

If:

  • Your broken stairs are taken by a churchgoer
  • In a rented worship area, your candles can light a fire.
  • Inadvertently, a volunteer drops the laptop of a council member

Volunteers can pose a challenge for insurance companies. Your general liability covers most accidents that volunteers cause. This means your insurance pays for any injuries or property damage caused by your volunteer. But, any injuries that your volunteer sustains are not covered. You can add volunteer coverage to workers’ compensation in some states.

 

Tip: Volunteers are listed on general liability policies as being insured. This means that they are covered for the injuries they cause, but not the ones they sustain. Some states allow you to include volunteer coverage as riders on workers’ compensation policies. Talk to your agent to discuss a volunteer accident medical expenses policy.

 

Commercial Property Insurance

Church-owned buildings and their contents are covered by commercial property insurance. This includes furnishings and fixtures as well as equipment. Property insurance covers these items if they are damaged by a covered event. This is less than your deductible so you can get the items fixed.

Commercial property insurance typically covers damage due to:

  • Fire
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Hail
  • Windstorms
  • Burst pipes

There may be additional property exposures for churches, such as landscaping, valuable art, or outdoor signs. These are usually covered by commercial property insurance. However, you might want to place the right value on them so that you have enough coverage.

 

Tip: Churches should add fine arts endorsements for high-value artifacts to their property insurance. Most commercial property policies do not provide replacement value coverage. They also often exclude potential threats artifacts are susceptible to such as temperature and fungus.

 

Pastoral Professional Liability Insurance

Pastoral professional liability insurance covers clergy against claims of negligence in pastoral care. You can get one-on-one or small-group counseling, as well as guidance during religious services.

You might be required to take professional liability, for example, if you:

  • Couple claims that their divorce was caused by your inability to offer spiritual guidance
  • One congregant claims that the sermon’s advice caused them to make bad investments
  • A prayer group member claims that your words have caused emotional harm.

Pastoral professional liability insurance covers you for these types of events. It pays for your legal defense including attorney’s fees and court costs.

D&O Insurance

D&O Insurance protects your board members’ legal defense in the event they are sued for actions they have taken on behalf of your church. These accusations could include mismanagement, unfair hiring practices and defamation. They can be made by current or former employees, vendors working with your church, donors, and even members.

Your board’s actions are not covered by other policies, leaving members open to lawsuits. This can make it difficult to sit on a board. Church leaders purchase D&O to promote membership. Policies protect the assets of the church because they decrease the chance that board members will sue the church if things go wrong. D&O insurance is a good idea since board members are not covered by the general or professional liability policies of churches. If your board is sued for their board duties, they will have to pay all legal fees.

Churches can get commercial auto insurance

Church-owned cars, trucks and vans are covered by Commercial auto coverage Businesses must have at least some liability coverage in order to cover any injuries they cause in an accident. You can also add coverages such as:

  • Medical payments Covers your medical expenses, for you and your passenger, regardless of fault
  • Collision: Insures your church’s vehicles that are damaged by an accident
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorists: Covers medical expenses and property damage caused by a driver who either doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance
  • Comprehensive: Covers repairs to church-owned vehicles that are damaged in an accident.
  • Roadside Assistance: Insures roadside assistance such as tows
  • Non-owned and rented auto: Insures you against any damage to cars that you rent, lease, or hire.

Even though your vehicles cross state boundaries, commercial car insurance covers them. However, standard policies may not cover you if you drive while on mission trips. Ask your agent for information about the options available to you regarding vehicles that your church has or uses in other countries.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Workers’ Compensation Insurance A state-mandated insurance policy, which covers employees’ medical bills and partial lost wages following an injury or illness on the job, is an Workers’ Compensation insurance . While clergy are exempted in some states, most policies cover:

  • Traumatic injuries such as falling off a ladder decorating the synagogue
  • Repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel
  • Lung disease and occupational diseases such as lung disease can result from asbestos exposure

Two issues are important for religious organizations to be aware of when it comes to workers’ compensation:

  • Workers from overseas: This type of employee is not usually covered by workers’ comp insurance. Therefore, churches with foreign ministries might need to provide workers’ compensation for their overseas staff.
  • Volunteers Although laws may vary by state, most policies do not include volunteers. You might ask your agent for volunteer accident medical insurance.

Abuse & Molestation Insurance For Churches

Abuse and molestation insurance protects against accusations of church staff members engaging in sexual misconduct. Although these policies do not cover the criminal side, they can protect your church by covering the costs of a civil case.

Some policies covering abuse and molestation cover a civil trial, regardless of whether the allegations are true. Some policies may only cover the church that is the employer, but not the accused perpetrator. Other policies may also require you to reimburse legal fees if the perpetrator’s guilt is proven. There are many options for coverage. It is important to ask questions before purchasing a policy.

Although religious organizations and spiritual practices are not nonprofits, they still need insurance.

Bottom line

Like any business, religious organizations are subject to risks. Because of the high expectations of laypeople, they may be more likely to be sued. Many churches wouldn’t be able to pay for a costly lawsuit. This makes insurance essential for synagogues and churches.

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