Church across American are facing a real challenge when it comes to following their faith and deeply rooted beliefs, as the world embraces things that fall outside of the churches beliefs. This is not a new challenge for churches just a difference cultural challenge. Even the bible deals with the topic of homosexual relations and the bible has been around for thousands of years. I speak to hundreds of churches each year in dealing with their church insurance and the topic of same-sex marriage will typically always come up as a talking point. Most churches say they are not sure what is the right thing to do legally and how do they best protect their church from a legal battle that they feel is on their doorsteps.
I recently read an article For Churches That Won’t Perform Same-Sex Weddings, Insurance Begins to Look Iffy where the author talked about this very issue. At the time of publication (July 8, 2015 @ 11:23 PM) there were no real answers from the insurance community except you might be able to find some legal defense coverage for the lawsuit but the church insurance carrier were not willing to pay a settlement to the plaintiff if the church lose the case.
Unfortunately this was not the answer churches wanted to hear but it was the hard truth we had to tell our clients. Insurance carriers were taking a hard stance on this topic as they would argue there were no definable damages. Church insurance carrier’s main answer for no coverage was because there was no actual third party damages related to bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, or advertising injury. Their general liability coverage form would not be able to respond for an event such as a church refusing to provide same-sex marriage either at their church or a wedding done by the Pastor of the church. This was because a General Liability policy pay’s for third party damages and based on how the current insurance policy has always been written there was little to no coverage to be provided as I had mentioned earlier.
As an Insurance Agent who specializes in Church Insurance we were in constant discussions with our carrier partners and asked for a solution to this problem. In 2016 one of our carrier partners GuideOne Insurance Co came out with a solution that most of our clients immediately requested for this coverage to be added to their insurance policy. They created a coverage called the Religious Expressions Coverage. This coverage is completely outside of the normal way of life for an insurance company. I was personally shocked that an insurance carrier would offer such a coverage based on how the normal and typical insurance policy defines a third party loss. With this coverage, churches are now able to have several layers of insurance coverage in the event they find themselves in a lawsuit dealing with their religious beliefs.
• Any trustee or official, board member, council, deacon or vestry are insureds for their duties
pertaining to your House of Worship;
• Your volunteer workers, employees or members performing duties on your behalf are insured
by these coverages;
• Generous indemnity limit of up to $1 million;
• Reimbursements for legal defense costs as the result of a covered civil proceeding, arbitration or
alternative dispute resolution for covered damages including court costs, defense against injunctive
relief actions and cost of appeal bonds (up to $150,000 each incident, $300,000 aggregate limit);
• Affordable flat rate premium; and
• Available additional coverage with any House of Worship insurance policy.
Please refer to the insurance policy for specifics of coverage and any limitations or exclusions that may apply. As a GuideOne agent we can assist you with details of this coverage.
You might be asking what is the next step. How do I obtain a Church Insurance policy that includes coverage for my religious belief’s. Integrity Now Insurance Brokers is licensed throughout the United States. We are here to help you in any way that we can. It is important that you also take internal steps outside of an insurance policy to further protect your church. We can discuss a few additional steps that we recommend your church take. Please give us a call and request a quote and continue this discussion.
Integrity Now Insurance Brokers, Inc.
(562) 606-1030 x 1