risk_management.jpg

Navigating Risk Management in Turbulent Times 

The list is long of factors that can leave churches open to significant financial loss when something goes wrong.

There’s a long list of things that churches are involved with on a day-to-day, and week-to-week basis that can leave them open to significant financial losses when something goes wrong.  

Houses of worship that want to minimize the chances of being hit with these losses need to go through a process known as “risk management,” where they evaluate what types of risks their activities expose them to and come up with ways to minimize their impact. 

The best way for a church to begin what, at first glance, looks like a complicated process is by partnering with an insurance carrier or agent that specializes in working with worship facilities – as well as taking advantage of the wealth of information on risk management from many of these companies that can be found on the internet. 

Insurance companies such as Brotherhood Mutual, Church Mutual, and GuideOne Mutual (often referred to as “the big three of insurers of religious institutions) and many others have plenty of readily available information on good risk management practices, according to Mike Devereux, senior vice president in the Tampa, FL office of HUB International Limited, an insurance agency that services more than 500 churches, synagogues and schools throughout that state. 

“There’s an enormous amount of information that you can access for free,” he notes, “and you can download all sorts of the policies and procedures necessary to make your church safe, including those dealing with facilities, sexual abuse, and driver liability.”  

Major issues 

The focus of risk management in the church setting has evolved over time, according to Devereux. 

“What was important years ago were buildings and facilities,” says Devereux.  “but now, by far, the biggest risk management concern among churches throughout the country is the threat posed by the ‘active shooter.’”  

Churches are caught in the horns of a dilemma when trying to mitigate the risks posed by active shooters, according to Ed Hancock, vice president and chief underwriting officer at Merrill, WI-based Church Mutual Insurance Company. 

“Churches need to provide some level of security to their congregations from acts that, until now, were not considered within the realm of possibility,” Hancock explains. Public schools also have to deal with this risk, he notes, “but they have the luxury of being able to lock down their facilities – while churches remain institutions that welcome all, where the doors are open and anyone can walk in.” 

In response to the situation, churches are working on their own and/or with their insurance carriers in putting together safety programs, according to Devereux.  And at the same time, a number of carriers have also put together various types of specialized coverages which, in addition to providing for liability protection, can pay for a wide variety of direct-and-indirect services that are commonly associated with this type of incident. 

For example, Church Mutual’s “Catastrophic Violence” package, a no-charge component of its Proven Protector Package, provides unique specialized coverage up to $300,000 to churches for the wide variety of emergency expenses, from medical to wage losses of hostages to media relations services, that can arise from an active-shooter or similar violent event; this accompanies its partnership with security consultants Firestorm and ALICE to support its members in planning for type of disaster.   

Meanwhile, in addition to providing extensive information on dealing with this type of safety issue, Ft. Wayne, In.-based Brotherhood Mutual's Security Operations Liability Coverage addresses the insurance needs of individual members of armed security teams.  Detailed information dealing with church violence is also a specific component of West Des Moines, IA-based GuideOne’s “Safe Church” risk management resource package for members. 

Other major risk management focuses in today’s church market are led by what Hancock describes as “misconduct, sexual or otherwise, on the part of church employees and volunteers that prey upon others in a trusting environment.”   

Background checks are the primary element of risk management efforts aimed at preventing this, he notes, adding “in today’s society, if you are a little league baseball coach, you have to undergo a background check – and it should be no different for church members or volunteers engaged in mentoring, teaching and/or counseling youth or other congregates.”  

Property-wise, protecting your building, or even deciding what kind of building to consider putting up in the first place, is a major risk management issue for churches, according to Devereux. 

“A lot of churches want to just put up a prefab metal building because that is the cheapest way to go,” Devereux said.  But from the insurance carrier risk management perspective, “The main question is what’s best for the church, in the event that it is located in a part of the country where it has to withstand things like earthquakes, floods, tornados, and/or hurricanes. 

One perennial focus of church risk management is the use of church-provided automobile transportation for youth trips and other purposes, according to Devereux, with “distracted driving” by church employees, agents, and volunteers texting and/or using cell phones while driving a major concern.  

Texting and cell phone use while driving have been shown to significantly increase the risk of an auto accident, according to Devereux. “It also substantially increases the driver’s liability,” he notes, “and if an employee, agent or volunteer is using a vehicle for a church trip or program, the church may be held liable for the negligent behavior of the driver.” 

Churches can lessen their liability in this regard if a clear policy regarding texting and cell phone use while driving is implemented, according to Devereux, as well as policies covering driver training and background checks on volunteer drivers 

Getting started  

Finding the right resources to access and implement a sound church risk management program can take some concentrated effort. 

First of all – put someone in charge. 

“You need to have an executive pastor or an administrator that is leading your efforts,” according to Devereux. “If you’re a church that relies solely on volunteers, or on a pastor that already wears ten hats, it’s going to be much more difficult.”  

One very important thing that a church will have to decide in making effective risk management a part of its operation is determining what insurance professional they will deal with, Devereux notes.  

Part of your selection process will be guided by what state you live in.  In some states, the major insurance carriers have “direct writers,” i.e., in-house employees, in addition to independent agents, according to Devereux. 

He also points out that a decision a lot of churches will find themselves faced with is whether or not to use a church member as an insurance agent, noting that “Some churches will want to do business with a member for a variety of reasons – while others might see it as a conflict of interest, or creating a situation where it would be difficult to deal with a member that was not doing a good job.” 

Asking another church “Who are you doing business with, and are they doing a good job” is one good way to find the right individual/company to handle your insurance needs, adds Devereux.  

And another can be checking with the district/regional office of your denomination, he notes, explaining “They will typically have some kind of local offices and, trust me, all the [insurance] agents call on them, so there are a lot of referrals.”  Also, a number of denominations, such as the Assemblies of God and the Southern Baptist Convention, have their own insurance units. 

Definitely keep in mind that if you decide to utilize an insurance agent to help you navigate the world of risk management for churches, “You need someone that knows the niche,” adds Hancock 

“Anybody can sell insurance.  But, we like to believe that the insurance surrounding a church is a bit specialized,” Hancock says. 

When talking with agents, he advises that “It is always good to inquire ‘are you an insurance agent or representative for other churches? Do you have experience in both selling insurance and helping churches procure insurance correctly from carriers that understand our risks, habits, and exposures?’” 

And, importantly, pay attention to the financial strength and creditworthiness of the insurance carrier, information which can be found in ratings issued by A.M. Best, the global credit rating agency with a unique focus on the insurance industry.  

“This is not unique to churches – but, insurance is the promise to pay in the future,” says Hancock, “You are buying that insurance today to pay for losses in the future, so an evaluation of the financial strength of the insurer is important – that strength is something that should never be taken for granted.”  

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TITLE>>> Navigating Risk Management in Turbulent Times 

DECK>>> The list is long of factors that can leave churches open to significant financial loss when something goes wrong.

BYLINE>>> Martin Sinderman 

 

There’s a long list of things that churches are involved with on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis that can leave them open to significant financial losses when something goes wrong.  

 

Houses of worship that want to minimize the chances of being hit with these losses need to go through a process known as “risk management,” where they evaluate what types of risks their activities expose them to and come up with ways to minimize their impact. 

 

The best way for a church to begin what, at first glance, looks like a complicated process is by partnering with an insurance carrier or agent that specializes in working with worship facilities – as well as taking advantage of the wealth of information on risk management from many of these companies that can be found on the internet. 

 

Insurance companies such as Brotherhood Mutual, Church Mutual, and GuideOne Mutual (often referred to as “the bit three of insurers of religious institutions) and many others have plenty of readily available information on good risk management practices, according to Mike Devereux, senior vice president in the Tampa, FL office of HUB International Limited, an insurance agency that services more than 500 churches, synagogues and schools throughout that state. 

 

“There’s an enormous amount of information that you can access for free,” he notes, “and you can download all sorts of the policies and procedures necessary to make your church safe, including those dealing with facilities, sexual abuse, and driver liability.”  

 

Major issues 

The focus of risk management in the church setting has evolved over time, according to Devereux. 

 

“What was important years ago were buildings and facilities,” says Devereux.  “but now, by far, the biggest risk management concern among churches throughout the country is the threat posed by the ‘active shooter.’”  

 

Churches are caught in the horns of a dilemma when trying to mitigate the risks posed by active shooters, according to Ed Hancock, vice president and chief underwriting officer at Merrill, WI-based Church Mutual Insurance Company. 

 

“Churches need to provide some level of security to their congregations from acts that, until now, were not considered within the realm of possibility,” Hancock explains. Public schools also have to deal with this risk, he notes, “but they have the luxury of being able to lock down their facilities – while churches remain institutions that welcome all, where the doors are open and anyone can walk in.” 

 

In response to the situation, churches are working on their own and/or with their insurance carriers in putting together safety programs, according to Devereux.  And at the same time, a number of carriers have also put together various types of specialized coverages which, in addition to providing for liability protection, can pay for a wide variety of direct-and-indirect services that are commonly associated with this type of incident. 

 

For example, Church Mutual’s “Catastrophic Violence” package, a no-charge component of its Proven Protector Package, provides unique specialized coverage up to $300,000 to churches for the wide variety of emergency expenses, from medical to wage losses of hostages to media relations services, that can arise from an active-shooter or similar violent event; this accompanies its partnership with security consultants Firestorm and ALICE to support its members in planning for type of disaster.   

 

Meanwhile, in addition to providing extensive information on dealing with this type of safety issue, Ft. Wayne, In.-based Brotherhood Mutual's Security Operations Liability Coverage addresses the insurance needs of individual members of armed security teams.  Detailed information dealing with church violence is also a specific component of West Des Moines, IA-based GuideOne’s “Safe Church” risk management resource package for members. 

 

Other major risk management focuses in today’s church market are led by what Hancock describes as “misconduct, sexual or otherwise, on the part of church employees and volunteers that prey upon others in a trusting environment.”   

 

Background checks are the primary element of risk management efforts aimed at preventing this, he notes, adding “in today’s society, if you are a little league baseball coach, you have to undergo a background check – and it should be no different for church members or volunteers engaged in mentoring, teaching and/or counseling youth or other congregates.”  

 

Property-wise, protecting your building, or even deciding what kind of building to consider putting up in the first place, is a major risk management issue for churches, according to Devereux. 

 

“A lot of churches want to just put up a prefab metal building because that is the cheapest way to go,” Devereux said.  But from the insurance carrier risk management perspective, “The main question is what’s best for the church, in the event that it is located in a part of the country where it has to withstand things like earthquakes, floods, tornados, and/or hurricanes. 

 

One perennial focus of church risk management is the use of church-provided automobile transportation for youth trips and other purposes, according to Devereux, with “distracted driving” by church employees, agents, and volunteers texting and/or using cell phones while driving a major concern.  

 

Texting and cell phone use while driving have been shown to significantly increase the risk of an auto accident, according to Devereux. “It also substantially increases the driver’s liability,” he notes, “and if an employee, agent or volunteer is using a vehicle for a church trip or program, the church may be held liable for the negligent behavior of the driver.” 

 

Churches can lessen their liability in this regard if a clear policy regarding texting and cell phone use while driving is implemented, according to Devereux, as well as policies covering driver training and background checks on volunteer drivers 

 

 

Getting started  

Finding the right resources to access and implement a sound church risk management program can take some concentrated effort. 

 

First of all – put someone in charge. 

 

“You need to have an executive pastor or an administrator that is leading your efforts,” according to Devereux. “If you’re a church that relies solely on volunteers, or on a pastor that already wears ten hats, it’s going to be much more difficult.”  

 

One very important thing that a church will have to decide in making effective risk management a part of its operation is determining what insurance professional they will deal with, Devereux notes.  

 

Part of your selection process will be guided by what state you live in.  In some states, the major insurance carriers have “direct writers,” i.e., in-house employees, in addition to independent agents, according to Devereux. 

 

He also points out that a decision a lot of churches will find themselves faced with is whether or not to use a church member as an insurance agent, noting that “Some churches will want to do business with a member for a variety of reasons – while others might see it as a conflict of interest, or creating a situation where it would be difficult to deal with a member that was not doing a good job.” 

 

Asking another church “Who are you doing business with, and are they doing a good job” is one good way to find the right individual/company to handle your insurance needs, adds Devereux.  

 

And another can be checking with the district/regional office of your denomination, he notes, explaining “They will typically have some kind of local offices and, trust me, all the [insurance] agents call on them, so there are a lot of referrals.”  Also, a number of denominations, such as the Assemblies of God and the Southern Baptist Convention, have their own insurance units. 

 

Definitely keep in mind that if you decide to utilize an insurance agent to help you navigate the world of risk management for churches, “You need someone that knows the niche,” adds Hancock 

 

“Anybody can sell insurance.  But, we like to believe that the insurance surrounding a church is a bit specialized,” Hancock says. 

 

When talking with agents, he advises that “It is always good to inquire ‘are you an insurance agent or representative for other churches? Do you have experience in both selling insurance and helping churches procure insurance correctly from carriers that understand our risks, habits, and exposures?’” 

 

And, importantly, pay attention to the financial strength and creditworthiness of the insurance carrier, information which can be found in ratings issued by A.M. Best, the global credit rating agency with a unique focus on the insurance industry.  

 

“This is not unique to churches – but, insurance is the promise to pay in the future,” says Hancock, “You are buying that insurance today to pay for losses in the future, so an evaluation of the financial strength of the insurer is important – that strength is something that should never be taken for granted.”  

 

(end) 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TITLE>>> Navigating Risk Management in Turbulent Times 

DECK>>> The list is long of factors that can leave churches open to significant financial loss when something goes wrong.

BYLINE>>> Martin Sinderman 

 

There’s a long list of things that churches are involved with on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis that can leave them open to significant financial losses when something goes wrong.  

 

Houses of worship that want to minimize the chances of being hit with these losses need to go through a process known as “risk management,” where they evaluate what types of risks their activities expose them to and come up with ways to minimize their impact. 

 

The best way for a church to begin what, at first glance, looks like a complicated process is by partnering with an insurance carrier or agent that specializes in working with worship facilities – as well as taking advantage of the wealth of information on risk management from many of these companies that can be found on the internet. 

 

Insurance companies such as Brotherhood Mutual, Church Mutual, and GuideOne Mutual (often referred to as “the bit three of insurers of religious institutions) and many others have plenty of readily available information on good risk management practices, according to Mike Devereux, senior vice president in the Tampa, FL office of HUB International Limited, an insurance agency that services more than 500 churches, synagogues and schools throughout that state. 

 

“There’s an enormous amount of information that you can access for free,” he notes, “and you can download all sorts of the policies and procedures necessary to make your church safe, including those dealing with facilities, sexual abuse, and driver liability.”  

 

Major issues 

The focus of risk management in the church setting has evolved over time, according to Devereux. 

 

“What was important years ago were buildings and facilities,” says Devereux.  “but now, by far, the biggest risk management concern among churches throughout the country is the threat posed by the ‘active shooter.’”  

 

Churches are caught in the horns of a dilemma when trying to mitigate the risks posed by active shooters, according to Ed Hancock, vice president and chief underwriting officer at Merrill, WI-based Church Mutual Insurance Company. 

 

“Churches need to provide some level of security to their congregations from acts that, until now, were not considered within the realm of possibility,” Hancock explains. Public schools also have to deal with this risk, he notes, “but they have the luxury of being able to lock down their facilities – while churches remain institutions that welcome all, where the doors are open and anyone can walk in.” 

 

In response to the situation, churches are working on their own and/or with their insurance carriers in putting together safety programs, according to Devereux.  And at the same time, a number of carriers have also put together various types of specialized coverages which, in addition to providing for liability protection, can pay for a wide variety of direct-and-indirect services that are commonly associated with this type of incident. 

 

For example, Church Mutual’s “Catastrophic Violence” package, a no-charge component of its Proven Protector Package, provides unique specialized coverage up to $300,000 to churches for the wide variety of emergency expenses, from medical to wage losses of hostages to media relations services, that can arise from an active-shooter or similar violent event; this accompanies its partnership with security consultants Firestorm and ALICE to support its members in planning for type of disaster.   

 

Meanwhile, in addition to providing extensive information on dealing with this type of safety issue, Ft. Wayne, In.-based Brotherhood Mutual's Security Operations Liability Coverage addresses the insurance needs of individual members of armed security teams.  Detailed information dealing with church violence is also a specific component of West Des Moines, IA-based GuideOne’s “Safe Church” risk management resource package for members. 

 

Other major risk management focuses in today’s church market are led by what Hancock describes as “misconduct, sexual or otherwise, on the part of church employees and volunteers that prey upon others in a trusting environment.”   

 

Background checks are the primary element of risk management efforts aimed at preventing this, he notes, adding “in today’s society, if you are a little league baseball coach, you have to undergo a background check – and it should be no different for church members or volunteers engaged in mentoring, teaching and/or counseling youth or other congregates.”  

 

Property-wise, protecting your building, or even deciding what kind of building to consider putting up in the first place, is a major risk management issue for churches, according to Devereux. 

 

“A lot of churches want to just put up a prefab metal building because that is the cheapest way to go,” Devereux said.  But from the insurance carrier risk management perspective, “The main question is what’s best for the church, in the event that it is located in a part of the country where it has to withstand things like earthquakes, floods, tornados, and/or hurricanes. 

 

One perennial focus of church risk management is the use of church-provided automobile transportation for youth trips and other purposes, according to Devereux, with “distracted driving” by church employees, agents, and volunteers texting and/or using cell phones while driving a major concern.  

 

Texting and cell phone use while driving have been shown to significantly increase the risk of an auto accident, according to Devereux. “It also substantially increases the driver’s liability,” he notes, “and if an employee, agent or volunteer is using a vehicle for a church trip or program, the church may be held liable for the negligent behavior of the driver.” 

 

Churches can lessen their liability in this regard if a clear policy regarding texting and cell phone use while driving is implemented, according to Devereux, as well as policies covering driver training and background checks on volunteer drivers 

 

 

Getting started  

Finding the right resources to access and implement a sound church risk management program can take some concentrated effort. 

 

First of all – put someone in charge. 

 

“You need to have an executive pastor or an administrator that is leading your efforts,” according to Devereux. “If you’re a church that relies solely on volunteers, or on a pastor that already wears ten hats, it’s going to be much more difficult.”  

 

One very important thing that a church will have to decide in making effective risk management a part of its operation is determining what insurance professional they will deal with, Devereux notes.  

 

Part of your selection process will be guided by what state you live in.  In some states, the major insurance carriers have “direct writers,” i.e., in-house employees, in addition to independent agents, according to Devereux. 

 

He also points out that a decision a lot of churches will find themselves faced with is whether or not to use a church member as an insurance agent, noting that “Some churches will want to do business with a member for a variety of reasons – while others might see it as a conflict of interest, or creating a situation where it would be difficult to deal with a member that was not doing a good job.” 

 

Asking another church “Who are you doing business with, and are they doing a good job” is one good way to find the right individual/company to handle your insurance needs, adds Devereux.  

 

And another can be checking with the district/regional office of your denomination, he notes, explaining “They will typically have some kind of local offices and, trust me, all the [insurance] agents call on them, so there are a lot of referrals.”  Also, a number of denominations, such as the Assemblies of God and the Southern Baptist Convention, have their own insurance units. 

 

Definitely keep in mind that if you decide to utilize an insurance agent to help you navigate the world of risk management for churches, “You need someone that knows the niche,” adds Hancock 

 

“Anybody can sell insurance.  But, we like to believe that the insurance surrounding a church is a bit specialized,” Hancock says. 

 

When talking with agents, he advises that “It is always good to inquire ‘are you an insurance agent or representative for other churches? Do you have experience in both selling insurance and helping churches procure insurance correctly from carriers that understand our risks, habits, and exposures?’” 

 

And, importantly, pay attention to the financial strength and creditworthiness of the insurance carrier, information which can be found in ratings issued by A.M. Best, the global credit rating agency with a unique focus on the insurance industry.  

 

“This is not unique to churches – but, insurance is the promise to pay in the future,” says Hancock, “You are buying that insurance today to pay for losses in the future, so an evaluation of the financial strength of the insurer is important – that strength is something that should never be taken for granted.”  

 

(end) 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

TITLE>>> Navigating Risk Management in Turbulent Times 

DECK>>> The list is long of factors that can leave churches open to significant financial loss when something goes wrong.

BYLINE>>> Martin Sinderman 

 

There’s a long list of things that churches are involved with on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis that can leave them open to significant financial losses when something goes wrong.  

 

Houses of worship that want to minimize the chances of being hit with these losses need to go through a process known as “risk management,” where they evaluate what types of risks their activities expose them to and come up with ways to minimize their impact. 

 

The best way for a church to begin what, at first glance, looks like a complicated process is by partnering with an insurance carrier or agent that specializes in working with worship facilities – as well as taking advantage of the wealth of information on risk management from many of these companies that can be found on the internet. 

 

Insurance companies such as Brotherhood Mutual, Church Mutual, and GuideOne Mutual (often referred to as “the bit three of insurers of religious institutions) and many others have plenty of readily available information on good risk management practices, according to Mike Devereux, senior vice president in the Tampa, FL office of HUB International Limited, an insurance agency that services more than 500 churches, synagogues and schools throughout that state. 

 

“There’s an enormous amount of information that you can access for free,” he notes, “and you can download all sorts of the policies and procedures necessary to make your church safe, including those dealing with facilities, sexual abuse, and driver liability.”  

 

Major issues 

The focus of risk management in the church setting has evolved over time, according to Devereux. 

 

“What was important years ago were buildings and facilities,” says Devereux.  “but now, by far, the biggest risk management concern among churches throughout the country is the threat posed by the ‘active shooter.’”  

 

Churches are caught in the horns of a dilemma when trying to mitigate the risks posed by active shooters, according to Ed Hancock, vice president and chief underwriting officer at Merrill, WI-based Church Mutual Insurance Company. 

 

“Churches need to provide some level of security to their congregations from acts that, until now, were not considered within the realm of possibility,” Hancock explains. Public schools also have to deal with this risk, he notes, “but they have the luxury of being able to lock down their facilities – while churches remain institutions that welcome all, where the doors are open and anyone can walk in.” 

 

In response to the situation, churches are working on their own and/or with their insurance carriers in putting together safety programs, according to Devereux.  And at the same time, a number of carriers have also put together various types of specialized coverages which, in addition to providing for liability protection, can pay for a wide variety of direct-and-indirect services that are commonly associated with this type of incident. 

 

For example, Church Mutual’s “Catastrophic Violence” package, a no-charge component of its Proven Protector Package, provides unique specialized coverage up to $300,000 to churches for the wide variety of emergency expenses, from medical to wage losses of hostages to media relations services, that can arise from an active-shooter or similar violent event; this accompanies its partnership with security consultants Firestorm and ALICE to support its members in planning for type of disaster.   

 

Meanwhile, in addition to providing extensive information on dealing with this type of safety issue, Ft. Wayne, In.-based Brotherhood Mutual's Security Operations Liability Coverage addresses the insurance needs of individual members of armed security teams.  Detailed information dealing with church violence is also a specific component of West Des Moines, IA-based GuideOne’s “Safe Church” risk management resource package for members. 

 

Other major risk management focuses in today’s church market are led by what Hancock describes as “misconduct, sexual or otherwise, on the part of church employees and volunteers that prey upon others in a trusting environment.”   

 

Background checks are the primary element of risk management efforts aimed at preventing this, he notes, adding “in today’s society, if you are a little league baseball coach, you have to undergo a background check – and it should be no different for church members or volunteers engaged in mentoring, teaching and/or counseling youth or other congregates.”  

 

Property-wise, protecting your building, or even deciding what kind of building to consider putting up in the first place, is a major risk management issue for churches, according to Devereux. 

 

“A lot of churches want to just put up a prefab metal building because that is the cheapest way to go,” Devereux said.  But from the insurance carrier risk management perspective, “The main question is what’s best for the church, in the event that it is located in a part of the country where it has to withstand things like earthquakes, floods, tornados, and/or hurricanes. 

 

One perennial focus of church risk management is the use of church-provided automobile transportation for youth trips and other purposes, according to Devereux, with “distracted driving” by church employees, agents, and volunteers texting and/or using cell phones while driving a major concern.  

 

Texting and cell phone use while driving have been shown to significantly increase the risk of an auto accident, according to Devereux. “It also substantially increases the driver’s liability,” he notes, “and if an employee, agent or volunteer is using a vehicle for a church trip or program, the church may be held liable for the negligent behavior of the driver.” 

 

Churches can lessen their liability in this regard if a clear policy regarding texting and cell phone use while driving is implemented, according to Devereux, as well as policies covering driver training and background checks on volunteer drivers 

 

 

Getting started  

Finding the right resources to access and implement a sound church risk management program can take some concentrated effort. 

 

First of all – put someone in charge. 

 

“You need to have an executive pastor or an administrator that is leading your efforts,” according to Devereux. “If you’re a church that relies solely on volunteers, or on a pastor that already wears ten hats, it’s going to be much more difficult.”  

 

One very important thing that a church will have to decide in making effective risk management a part of its operation is determining what insurance professional they will deal with, Devereux notes.  

 

Part of your selection process will be guided by what state you live in.  In some states, the major insurance carriers have “direct writers,” i.e., in-house employees, in addition to independent agents, according to Devereux. 

 

He also points out that a decision a lot of churches will find themselves faced with is whether or not to use a church member as an insurance agent, noting that “Some churches will want to do business with a member for a variety of reasons – while others might see it as a conflict of interest, or creating a situation where it would be difficult to deal with a member that was not doing a good job.” 

 

Asking another church “Who are you doing business with, and are they doing a good job” is one good way to find the right individual/company to handle your insurance needs, adds Devereux.  

 

And another can be checking with the district/regional office of your denomination, he notes, explaining “They will typically have some kind of local offices and, trust me, all the [insurance] agents call on them, so there are a lot of referrals.”  Also, a number of denominations, such as the Assemblies of God and the Southern Baptist Convention, have their own insurance units. 

 

Definitely keep in mind that if you decide to utilize an insurance agent to help you navigate the world of risk management for churches, “You need someone that knows the niche,” adds Hancock 

 

“Anybody can sell insurance.  But, we like to believe that the insurance surrounding a church is a bit specialized,” Hancock says. 

 

When talking with agents, he advises that “It is always good to inquire ‘are you an insurance agent or representative for other churches? Do you have experience in both selling insurance and helping churches procure insurance correctly from carriers that understand our risks, habits, and exposures?’” 

 

And, importantly, pay attention to the financial strength and creditworthiness of the insurance carrier, information which can be found in ratings issued by A.M. Best, the global credit rating agency with a unique focus on the insurance industry.  

 

“This is not unique to churches – but, insurance is the promise to pay in the future,” says Hancock, “You are buying that insurance today to pay for losses in the future, so an evaluation of the financial strength of the insurer is important – that strength is something that should never be taken for granted.”  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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