Church Insurance

On 9/11/2001, the insurance industry took the largest hit ever – over $40 billion dollars in claims – as a result of the terrorist attacks on the twin towers, the Pentagon and the planes. The insurance industry raised their premiums in an effort to recoup their vast losses – commercial insurance prices rose a lot in 2002 and then stabilized. In an effort to help the insurance industry, Congress also permitted the industry to levy a terrorism fee on new insurance policies (this authorization for this fee expires in 2014). As a result, church’s have been paying more for their commercial property insurance for ten years.

Actually, the price increases for churches are not entirely attributable to 9/11. There were two other series of incidents in the 1990s that exacerbated church insurance premium hikes. The Roman Catholic Church (and other church’s, too) had a series of well publicized pedophilia scandals which then tainted all faith institutions and raised premiums. There were also a number of church vans that tipped over and killed several people. 9/11 was the third of unrelated incidents which affected church insurance.

Since 9/11/2001, every commercial property insurance has carried a terrorism clause and premium. The dollar amount isn’t much and is rarely noted by the policy holder and not often mentioned by the insurance agent. This is a voluntary payment – churches can exempt themselves from paying this by simply stating they do not want this coverage. The coverage is automatic unless the church specifically states it doesn’t want the coverage. Please call your insurance agent and have that coverage removed. In my opinion, churches don’t need it because of the very limited coverage it offers: the terrorist attacks must be perpetrated by US citizens and acknowledged as terrorist acts by Congress are the only ones covered. Therefore, nothing on 9/11 would be covered but the Oklahoma City bombing would be covered.

In recent years I put my church’s insurance contract out to bid. Here’s what I learned. We paid over $42,000 for five consecutive years. In the year that the contract went to bid, the incumbent agent came back with a quote of just over $28,000 – a reduction of 35%. Two other bids came in at the same price so I knew that was a reasonable amount. In December 2010, a year after the initial bidding, I put the contract back out to bid and got back a quote of $24,500 – even more savings. We have shaved about 45% off our insurance contract.

With that savings I paid for a current valuation of the church’s property so that we have an accurate estimate of the worth of the church’s buildings and furnishings. I also got a video inventory of every room, cabinet, closet and office in the church. We made several copies of that video inventory and placed the copies with different people in their homes (away from the church), including our insurance agent. I’m in favor of inventories but not paper ones – when it says “10 chairs” there is no knowing the worth of those chairs. An image of those chairs allows for better accuracy in getting an insurance settlement.

So, please do the following

  1. Call your insurance agent today and delete the terrorism coverage on your church.
  2. Put your church’s insurance contract out to bid as soon as possible. Get at least three quotes and chose the low bidder.
  3. Get a current valuation of your church’s PP&E (property, plant & equipment)
  4. Make a video inventory of your tangible assets and have copies made for several people

Lead On!