Worship Facilities Newsbyte, the email newsletter counterpart of Worship Facilities Magazine, queried Cathi M. Linch, CPA, financial operations leader and treasurer of multi-site LifeChurch.tv, with central offices in Edmond, Okla., to find out how the church views and addresses its insurance needs.
LifeChurch.tv's assets are considerable, with 14 locations in six states and online. Read on as Linch shares her personal experiences in making sure that LifeChurch.tv is adequately insured.
Worship Facilities Newsbyte: Tell us about your church’s need for adequate property and liability insurance. Was there a certain situation that made you re-evaluate your coverage, or were you simply thinking ahead? And either way, what decisions did you make to make sure that you’re adequately covered?
Linch: We have always taken seriously our need to be appropriately insured. My background prior to LifeChurch.tv was public accounting, serving primarily insurance clients, which gave me a unique perspective of the value of insurance coverage. We review each aspect of our insurance coverage on at least an annual basis, as well as any time we make a major change (i.e., renovation, equipment additions, etc.).
Worship Facilities Newsbyte: Have you made a claim since obtaining or adjusting your coverage? If so, what was the outcome, generally, and were you pleased with your foresight in planning, and why?
Linch: Yes, we have made some property and liability claims during the 13 years our church has been in existence. Fortunately, in each case, we were adequately insured, and thus have not been disappointed in the outcomes of our claims.
Worship Facilities Newsbyte: Since you are one church in multiple locations, tell us how your insurance needs change depending upon geographic locale.
Linch: Our multi-site, multi-state nature raises a variety of issues to consider: 1) some campuses operate in permanent venues (some of which are leased, while others are owned), while other campuses operate portably in rented venues; 2) our campuses are located in a variety of weather extremestornadoes and hail in Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee, hurricanes in Florida, blizzards in New York, extreme heat in Arizona; and 3) not every insurer writes in every state, sometimes resulting in the need for multiple insurers. The variety of circumstances requires that we review each situation individually to determine the best approach to insurance.
Worship Facilities Newsbyte: Do you recommend that other churches seek professional advice to get the best coverage for their particular situations?
Linch: We have enjoyed a very good working relationship with Brotherhood Mutual [Fort Wayne, Ind.] over the six years I've been with LifeChurch.tv. I absolutely recommend that church leaders select an insurer based, at least in part, on the level of service the insurer will provide. We have open lines of communication with our insurer, and seek our insurer's input on a variety of issues.
Worship Facilities Newsbyte: What words of advice do you have for churches that are re-evaluating their current coverage? What are some important points they should consider to make sure all the bases are covered?
Linch: I would encourage church leaders to remember that both pricing and service are important factors, and not to allow one of those factors to too heavily outweigh the other. I would also encourage church leaders to seek professional advice. While an insurer is a great place to start for that advice, an insurer should not be the sole source of advice. A church is a business, like many other businesses in the community. Within every church are successful business leaders who have experience in analyzing and managing risk. These folks are generally very excited about finding a way to use their gifts and experience to serve in ministrytap into that experience and excitement and use it to benefit your Kingdom work.
Worship Facilities Newsbyte: How might your insurance needs change in the futuredo you envision any new building projects or additions to your current church campuses?
Linch: Currently, we are in the process of updating our employment practices coverage, and are beginning a building renovation project for one of our campuses. If there's one constant at LifeChurch.tv, it's that change is imminent, and our insurance needs will continue to change into the future.