3 coverage essentials to expect

From Philadelphia Insurance Companies

With more than 70 percent of the world’s population identifying as members of a religious community, it’s clear that religion plays a vital role in many people’s lives. 

As the heart of their spiritual (and many times physical) communities, religious organizations provide much more than worship, guidance, and a building.

From meals on wheels to secondhand shops, religious organizations offer:

• Opportunities for employment and volunteering

• Locations for events and meetings (secular and non-secular)

• Education (for children and adults), schools and camps

• Housing, transportation and more

“Religious organizations may not be aware of the full extent of their risk exposure from their daily and seasonal activities and programs,” says Nicholas Colletta, assistant vice president and religious organization insurance underwriting manager, Philadelphia Insurance Companies (PHLY).

Colletta adds, “An insurance strategy that understands religious organizations’ unique needs can help protect them and mitigate risk.”


These three components of religious organization insurance are essential to a seamless and successful customer experience.

#1: Specialized niche coverages

Insurance providers should have the options and experience necessary to handle the unique needs of each religious organization by offering the following coverages:

Property coverage to protect against expensive damages

Buildings (including the church building, pastor’s residence, school buildings, rental properties, rec centers, and thrift shops) can have quite a few unplanned exposures, such as:

• A burst pipe in a sanctuary causing $660,000 of water damage

• Fire causing $3.2 million of damage to the church and valuable artifacts

Abuse and molestation coverage to protect those in their care

Youth are at risk, whether in groups, at Sunday school, on church trips, or at religious camps, schools, and day cares. One example of an abuse claim includes:

• Nearly $1.3 million in damages for a 24-year-old youth pastor convicted of statutory rape of a 15-year-old youth group member

Adult-on-adult abuse is also a concern. One claims example includes:

• $350,000 in damages when a pastor made unwanted sexual contact with a woman during several counseling sessions

Auto coverage to protect those who travel and the vehicles used

Church vans, buses, and the pastor’s own car are common risks:

• A church van attempting a left turn through three lanes of traffic caused $400,585 in damages

Religious organizations may also have a hired and non-owned vehicle exposure, such as:

• A church employee in their personal vehicle hitting a motorcyclist (non-owned auto coverage) for more than $1 million in damages

General liability coverage for 24/7 protection

Slips, falls, and other injuries to church members and visitors require protection:

• A trip and fall on a cracked church sidewalk resulted in $533,668
in damages

Injuries can happen during activities such as volunteer events:

• A volunteer was injured in a fall from scaffolding, with nearly $1.2 million in resulting damages

• Hosting special events or large conferences also puts religious organizations at risk for liability claims.

Coverage for Professional Liability is also a must-have. This covers services performed by religious leaders from counseling (including religious, marriage, alcohol and drug abuse) to circumcision by a mohel.

And lastly, protection from crime, theft, and even cyber threats are part of a comprehensive coverage strategy.

Since 2005, our organization has been designing coverage for religious organizations of all denominations and sizes, including Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, Episcopal, Methodist, 7th Day Adventist, Jewish synagogues, and non-denominational churches.

#2: Risk control

Combining a risk management program with insurance coverage is another vital element of a comprehensive protection strategy.

“Controlling risk is critical for religious organizations,” says Eric Smith, sr. business operations analyst in the Risk Management Services (RMS) department at PHLY.

Smith emphasizes that, “Our consultants are specially trained across all of our products and risk functions. They understand the risks involved with abuse situations, camps, schools, aquatics, auto, building maintenance, and more and can apply this breadth of knowledge to the organization’s benefit.”

RMS consultants can assist with reviewing policies and current exposures and provide recommendations on how to strengthen risk management practices.

Consultants can also help organizations navigate access to an array of risk management tools from our partners, many at no or low cost, to aid with:

Auto risks:

• A no-cost vehicle telematics tool that provides real-time insights to correct dangerous driving behavior

• Defensive driver training

Abuse risks:

• Online abuse prevention training and policy support

Safety risks:

• Building and site inspections and recommendations for repairs, upkeep, and preservation

• Identification of hazards including physical, environmental, financial and emotional

• Armed intruder strategies and violent assault response programs

We also provide clients with a Learning Management System for online training and reporting capabilities for driver training, workplace discrimination, security awareness, and more. 

#3: Claims management

The third essential component of a solid insurance strategy is claims management.

Religious organizations should expect their insurance company to handle claims quickly and easily.

With staff strategically located across the country, our organization’s claims are regionalized to examiners and matched with specific property experts.

Additionally, we offer more than a dozen examiners experienced in handling all types of abuse claims. This is critical, as our team has seen upwards of 1,000 sexual and physical abuse claims per year across our various product niches.

Visit PHLY’s religious organization insurance and risk management services page to learn more.


Leave a Reply

HTML Snippets Powered By :