When it comes to preparing for the unexpected, one step churches often take is securing insurance coverage—a critical task to protect against risks. But the task is also daunting, especially given the scope of insurance needs and providers.
“When you say the word ‘insurance,’ it’s a huge subject,” says Phill Martin, deputy CEO of The Church Network, a professional organization for church administrators. “Not all coverage is equal.”
The good news is that while choosing a church insurance policy may not always be easy, churches don’t have to go through the selection process alone. That’s where an experienced, qualified insurance broker can come in to help the church find a provider that offers insurance coverage best suited to the church’s needs. Having a broker can make the process of seeking out and choosing the right insurance coverage a smoother process.
“Consider an insurance broker as a consultant, your advisor,” says Peter Persuitti, managing director of religious practice for insurance and consulting firm Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. “I would suggest that it’s a trusted advisor at the end of the day. I really want to emphasize so much the ‘trusted advisor’ part of it, and with that comes expertise. One of the things that is so critical about a broker is that the broker represents the church, not the carriers.”
Part of what a broker can provide to the church is customer service, in terms of dealing with insurance providers and addressing claims. In order to determine what types of services a broker would offer, churches can pose questions to the broker upfront to find out how they would help.
Rodney Flanders, assistant vice president of broker distribution for the Church Mutual Insurance Company, says that he would request the broker provide information that clarifies their services.
What churches should know about insurance coverage options
When selecting a broker, churches need to know which types of coverage their church requires and which types of coverage they should expect the broker to secure for them.
Charlie Cutler, managing partner of ChurchWest Insurance Services, points out one of the things that churches should be aware of. “There’s claims-made coverage [that] is temporary coverage, and occurrence coverage [that] is permanent,” Cutler says. “If it’s occurrence, you have permanent coverage.”
The takeaway for churches, according to Cutler, is this: “[M]ake sure [you] have permanent coverage.”
The types of events and situations for which churches need coverage vary, Cutler says, so there are a number of liability coverage options that churches can talk to a broker about, including coverage for church-sponsored activities, employment practices, and for allegations of sexual misconduct.