Church Insurance

Church Insurance

Churches, temples, synagogues, and other places of worship need a customized liability insurance policy to protect them and their congregations from accidents and unexpected events.

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What is church insurance?

Church insurance is a comprehensive policy designed specifically to meet the needs of urban and rural ministries across Canada. It protects churches from financial losses for events or occurrences on their properties and contents. Like other liability insurance policies such as commercial property insurance, church insurance is customized to suit your religious organization’s specific needs.

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Why do churches need insurance?

All houses of worship – churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, and chapels – require church insurance to cover the costs associated with the variety of risks they face. From worship services and rental hall operations for weddings to community-related programs for youth, the elderly, and disabled, to crime-related exposures resulting from expensive audio systems and musical instruments, ornate woodwork, and stained-glass windows, the variety of exposures places of worship face are not restricted to Sunday services.

For instance, if an unexpected event like a fire or vandalism should damage your place of worship or one of your parish members slips, falls, and is injured on your property, they could sue you for third-party bodily injuries.

Church insurance coverage can keep your property and its contents safe. Without it, damages or losses can prove to be financially devastating, especially if an accident or incident on the property escalates to a third-party lawsuit.

What does it cover?

A comprehensive church insurance policy may include the following types of coverages:

  • Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance: CGL is a liability insurance policy protecting your church from third-party property damage or bodily injury claims and allegations. For instance, if you are sued for bodily injury damages by a member of your congregation following a slip-and-fall accident, CGL may cover the injured person’s medical expenses and your legal fees regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit. Even if you aren’t sued, CGL coverage reimburses others for medical or funeral expenses as a result of bodily injury or death sustained by an accident under the conditions specified in the policy.
  • Commercial Property Insurance: Commercial property insurance is designed to protect your church and its contents from unexpected events that are out of your control, like damage or loss because of fire, windstorms, theft, or vandalism. Also known as business property or business contents insurance, commercial property insures your building, its contents and inventory, fixtures and furnishings, and any electronic devices on the premises.
  • Professional Liability Insurance: Also referred to as errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, professional liability coverage provides financial protection for claims against your church alleging negligence, misconduct, or failing to deliver a service as promised. Most religious organizations provide their congregations with counselling-related services and advice, making this type of coverage a must-have.
  • Directors and Officers (D&O) Liability Insurance: If your church or religious organization is a registered non-profit or charity with a board of directors, you may require D&O coverage to protect board members from lawsuits related to poor decisions, mistakes, or allegations of defamation that leads to a financial loss for your institution. Essentially, D&O insurance provides your board members with financial support for legal expenses if they are sued.

Additional coverages may include:

  • Commercial Crime Insurance: Faith-based organizations tend to have valuable gold and silver items, and they handle financial donations from their communities. Adding commercial crime coverage to your overall policy protects you from the internal theft of money and other securities, forgery, and fraud.
  • Abuse and Molestation Insurance: This kind of insurance is designed to cover the financial and reputational damage related to an allegation of sexual abuse or molestation. It covers a religious organization’s directors, employees, clergy, and volunteers for negligent hiring, supervision, training, or failing to report an act of abuse or molestation by an employee to the authorities.
  • Terrorism Insurance: Terrorism insurance protects you financially if your place of worship is damaged by an act of domestic terrorism. It includes coverage for an attack on or near your facilities that result in bodily injuries, business interruption, relocation costs, and reputational damage.

How much does church insurance cost?

The cost of an annual premium for a church insurance policy depends on several factors, such as: 

  • The location of your church, its size, and the condition and age of the building and property
  • Your years of experience as a religious leader or head administrator of the property
  • How often the establishment is unoccupied and the average occupancy rate during services
  • Previous insurance claims
  • Your annual and projected revenue
  • Other uses for the church and its facilities such as a rental hall
  • The types of coverages you have in your policy

 You can choose the coverages you want and the related deductibles. Speak to a Zensurance licensed broker to determine what risks your organization faces and get their insights on the right coverage level to ensure you’re adequately protected.

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Common claims scenarios

Frequently asked questions

Does commercial property insurance provide coverage for places of worship while they are vacant?

It depends. A non-residential property such as a church may be considered vacant after a prolonged period by your insurance company (typically a period of more than 30 days). If that happens, your insurer may remove some of your policy’s coverages. Be sure to speak to a licensed broker about the restrictions and limitations of your policy to understand how they apply to you.

Are there additional coverages I should add to a church insurance policy?

Yes. You may wish to add additional or optional coverages to your overall insurance policy. For instance, if your church has a passenger van it uses to attend community events or provide some of your followers with transportation to and from your location, you may need to include commercial auto coverage in your policy. Or if your organization runs a children’s daycare, you may need to add abuse and molestation coverage.

Are faith-based organizations eligible for insurance discounts?

It’s unlikely. Insurers consider churches and other faith-based institutions the same as any other commercial property. However, some insurance companies may offer discounts on certain types of policies if the institution has up-to-date electrical and plumbing infrastructure and a 24/7 security and fire-monitoring surveillance system. Talk to a Zensurance licensed broker to find out if your organization qualifies for any discounts.

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Taking preventative measures and mitigating the risks your church faces can go a long way to avoiding a catastrophe, but all religious organizations need to be prepared in case the unexpected unfolds with a customized insurance policy. 

Getting comprehensive church insurance for your faith-based organization from Zensurance is easy. Get a free quote by filling out our online application.

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