Like a business, churches need to protect their assets, but getting coverage isn’t as simple as asking an agent for church insurance. Instead, you need several policies, each designed for a specific risk. For instance, most churches need general liability in case a congregant suffers an injury. This policy typically costs between $500 to $1,500 per year.
Online brokers like CoverWallet make it easy to get insurance for churches, mosques, and other religious organizations. All you have to do is supply basic information, and CoverWallet matches you to a carrier that can provide your organization with appropriate and affordable coverage.
Top Church Insurance Companies
Religious organizations that want to compare offers while still getting covered quickly
Churches that want broad property insurance that covers equipment breakdown and sewer backup
Christian churches that want liability, property, and medical coverage for overseas missions
Worship centers that want assistance with safety training to reduce claims
Religious organizations that want multiple options for tailoring coverage
Last updated on 05/13/2020.
Churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious organizations face a unique set of risks—everything from equipment breakdown to allegations of pastoral misconduct—so we focused mainly on specialty carriers. These church insurance companies have industry knowledge, and that means they can typically offer coverage that provides sufficient protection at an affordable rate.
Common risks in the industry like older buildings, high-value artifacts, and high expectations among congregants make church insurance challenging to find, so we recommend submitting an application with online broker CoverWallet. The application is easy to fill out and often results in multiple offers to compare in just minutes. This gives applicants a chance to select the option that best fits their needs.
State Farm offers broad coverages for religious organizations, particularly when it comes to church property insurance. In addition to commercial property, churches get coverage for several common exposures, including sewer backups, equipment breakdown, and employee dishonesty. Optional coverage for cemetery liability, data breaches, and hired autos is available too.
Brotherhood Mutual has been in the business of insuring Christian churches for over 100 years. The 350 independent agents who sell its products are trained to evaluate ministry structures, liabilities, and risks so they can find churches the appropriate coverage. One unique option from Brotherhood Mutual is coverage for overseas missions, which offers coverage for liability lawsuits, ministry-owned properties and vehicles, medical payments for injured workers, and political evacuations.
Church Mutual Insurance
Church Mutual insures more religious institutions than any other insurance company in the United States and offers many property and liability insurance policies specifically designed for common church exposures. However, Church Mutual’s standout offering is its library of safety resources that range from water sensors to background checks to abuse awareness training. These resources are perfect for churches looking to control costs by reducing claims.
Gateway Specialty Insurance
Gateway Specialty Insurance is a Berkshire Hathaway-owned brokerage that partners with 17 insurance carriers to provide quality insurance to niche markets. Its relationships with specialty insurers mean Gateway Specialty can tailor your church insurance to meet your specific needs. On top of the common insurance policies for churches, you can add coverage for equipment breakdown, business income, and special events.
How Insurance for Churches Works
Insurance for churches and other religious organizations consists of multiple policies. You identify your organization’s risks and pick policies designed to cover them. Most organizations start with a business owner’s policy (BOP) that covers both third-party lawsuits and damage to church property and usually costs churches $1,200 to $2,600 per year.
While BOPs provide important coverage for churches, they aren’t the only type of insurance that religious organizations need. The policies your church or temple needs depends largely on the exposures you have. An exposure is the potential your organization has for loss, and that often comes from your operations.
For example, let’s say your clergy offer spiritual counseling. That may be an important part of your ministry, but it also may open your organization up to negligence claims. To protect your church’s assets, you can get professional liability insurance to cover your defense costs.
Most Common Types of Church Insurance
|Type of Insurance||What It Covers|
|General liability insurance||Third-party claims of bodily harm and property damage|
|Commercial property insurance||Insured value of business-owned property|
|Pastoral professional liability insurance||Allegations of professional negligence|
|Directors and officers insurance||Board members’ legal defense when they are sued for actions they take for your organization|
|Commercial auto insurance||Costs associated with accidents in church-owned vehicles|
|Workers’ compensation insurance||Employees’ lost wages and medical bills for work-related accidents and illnesses|
|Abuse and molestation insurance||Accusations of sexual misconduct in a civil lawsuit|
General Liability Insurance
General liability insurance pays for third-party claims of property damage and physical injury. Third parties are people who don’t work for your organization. The most common example may be congregants, but anyone who visits your church can be a third party, including delivery people and event attendees.
General liability pays out if:
- A churchgoer trips on your broken stairs
- Your candles start a fire in a rented worship space
- A volunteer accidentally drops a council member’s laptop
Volunteers can present tricky coverage situations. For the most part, the accidents they cause are covered by your general liability, so your insurer pays costs if your volunteer causes someone else’s property damage or bodily injury. However, injuries your volunteer suffers aren’t. Some states let you add coverage for volunteers as a rider to workers’ compensation.
Commercial Property Insurance
Commercial property insurance covers church-owned buildings and their contents, including furnishings, fixtures, and equipment. When these items are damaged in a covered event, property insurance pays the insured value, minus your deductible, so you can have the items repaired.
Most commercial property insurance covers damage caused by:
- Burst pipes
Churches may have additional property exposures to consider like outdoor signs, valuable art, and landscaping. Commercial property insurance usually includes these, but you may want to put the appropriate value on them so you know you have sufficient coverage.
Pastoral Professional Liability Insurance
Pastoral professional liability insurance is a type of professional liability coverage designed specifically for ordained clergy to cover accusations of negligence in pastoral care. Policies can include one-on-one and small group counseling or guidance given during a religious service.
For example, you might need professional liability if:
- A couple claims your failure to provide spiritual guidance led to their divorce
- A congregant says advice in your sermon caused them to make a bad investment
- A member of a prayer group alleges your words caused emotional damage
Pastoral professional liability insurance covers these events by paying for your legal defense, including lawyer’s fees, court costs, and court-ordered awards or settlements.
Directors and Officers (D&O) Insurance
D&O insurance covers your board members’ legal defense if they are sued for actions that they took on behalf of your church. These claims might include accusations of mismanagement, unfair hiring practices, and defamation and can come from current and former employees, vendors who work with your organization, donors, and even members of your congregation.
Other policies don’t cover your board’s actions, and that leaves members exposed to lawsuits. That can make sitting on a board unattractive, so church leaders often purchase D&O to encourage people to join. However, policies also protect the church’s assets because they reduce the likelihood of board members turning around and suing the church should things go south.
Commercial Auto Insurance for Churches
Commercial auto insurance covers church-owned cars, trucks, and vans. Most states require businesses to carry at least liability coverage to pay damages they cause in accidents. However, you can add other coverages, such as:
- Medical payments: Pays medical expenses for you, your insured driver, and passenger, no matter who is at fault
- Collision: Covers damage to your church-owned vehicles caused by an accident
- Uninsured/underinsured motorists: Covers medical expenses and property damage caused by a driver who either doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance
- Comprehensive: Pays for repairs to your church-owned vehicles if they’re damaged in something other than a collision
- Roadside assistance: Covers the cost of roadside assistance like tows
- Hired and non-owned auto: Covers your liability for cars you lease, hire, or borrow
Commercial car insurance follows your autos even when they cross state lines but driving while on overseas mission trips may not be covered through standard policies. Ask your agent about options for the vehicles your church owns or uses in other countries.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Workers’ compensation insurance is a state-mandated insurance policy that covers an employee’s doctors’ bills and partial lost wages after an on-the-job illness or injury. A few states exempt clergy from the requirement, but for those who need it, policies typically cover:
- Traumatic injuries like falling from a ladder while decorating the synagogue
- Repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel
- Occupational diseases like lung disease after exposure to asbestos
There are two workers’ compensation concerns that many religious organizations need to pay attention to. The first is overseas employees. They usually aren’t covered by workers’ compensation insurance, so churches with foreign ministries may need foreign voluntary workers’ compensation for overseas staff.
The second is volunteers. Laws vary by state, but most policies don’t include volunteers, so you may want to ask your agent about volunteer accident medical insurance.
Abuse & Molestation Insurance for Churches
Abuse and molestation insurance covers accusations of sexual misconduct by church employees. These policies seldom cover the criminal aspect, but they do protect your church by covering the cost of a civil trial.
Some abuse and molestation policies cover a civil trial whether the allegations are true or false. Others may only cover your church as the employer but not the alleged perpetrator or require you to pay back legal fees if the perpetrator is found guilty. There are lots of variations in the coverage, so it’s important to ask questions before you buy a policy.
Church Insurance Costs
No two religious institutions are alike, so the insurance costs for religious organizations vary greatly. However, small churches often can keep costs down by going through an insurer that specializes in religious organizations or a broker who offers a church insurance program. By grouping many churches, brokers can sometimes get affordable coverage for organizations that insurers might otherwise decline for being too small.
Church Insurance Costs & Deductibles by Coverage Type
General Liability Insurance
Pastoral Professional Liability Insurance
Abuse & Molestation Insurance
Last updated on 05/13/2020.
*General liability coverage doesn’t usually require a deductible. However, you may be able to request one to keep your costs down.
The table shows the typical premiums for churches with less than 300 members. General liability, pastoral liability, and D&O insurance are listed with two limits. The first is the amount insurers pay for any one claim while the second is the total paid for all claims over the policy term. Abuse and molestation coverage are listed as a sublimit because it’s often added to either general liability or professional liability.
The size of your congregation impacts your premium for liability coverages, but so does:
- The size of your board: More board members require more insurance because it increases your risk of a lawsuit.
- Your claims history: Insurers consider how often you’ve made claims in the past when they set your premium. You can reduce your claims with insurance waivers and other risk management techniques.
- The services you provide: Group and individual counseling services can increase your premium, but so can other ministries, like food pantries, daycare, and mission trips.
- Your policy terms: Requesting higher limits increases your premium. Conversely, asking for a lower deductible usually lowers it.
- The value of your property: A synagogue with valuable artifacts that also owns the physical structure will pay more for commercial property insurance than one that rents a storefront only.
Who Needs Church Insurance
We’re using the term “church insurance” very broadly. In practice, church insurance applies to religious organizations of all stripes, including mosques, temples, and synagogues. It can even be appropriate for some non-traditional practices too. Essentially, religious organizations need insurance because they interact with people, often own property, and need to protect their assets.
Here are a few less common types of spiritual practices that may require insurance:
- Traveling preacher: Preachers who move between locations most likely need the policies listed below, plus inland marine insurance. It covers property in transit.
- Home churches: Homeowner’s insurance usually covers an informal prayer circle, but home churches that take donations or are connected to a larger organization need church insurance.
- Yoga, tai-chi, and meditation practices: Spiritual practices like these most likely need business insurance. Read more in our Pilates and yoga insurance guide.
Religious organizations and spiritual practices may be nonprofits, but they are still businesses and need insurance like any other business.
Church Insurance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Religious institutions operate in a lot of different ways. Because there are so many different types, there are also several questions about insurance for churches, mosques, and temples. We’ve listed a few of the common questions here.
Who pays for a volunteer’s injury?
Volunteers are usually listed as insureds on general liability policies. That means the injuries they cause are covered, but the injuries they suffer aren’t. Some states let you add coverage for volunteers as a rider to workers’ compensation. If yours isn’t one of them, you may want to ask your agent about a volunteer accident medical expense policy.
Why does my board of directors need D&O insurance?
Board members aren’t covered by your church’s general or professional liability policies, so getting directors and officers insurance makes sense. Without D&O, your board would be stuck paying all of their legal fees in a lawsuit over their duties as board members. D&O insurance protects them and makes serving on your board more attractive.
Does church insurance cover high-value artifacts?
Churches with high-value artifacts should consider adding fine arts endorsements to their property coverage. Most standard commercial property policies don’t allow replacement cost value coverage for these items, and they often exclude perils that art is particularly susceptible to like temperature change or fungus.
Does church insurance cover fundraisers?
Churches that host special events, like fundraisers or conferences, may need additional event insurance. It all depends on what’s in your general liability insurance. You may have enough for a small luncheon but not a large gala. However, insurers that specialize in church insurance often include coverage for special events in their policies.
Religious organizations face risks like any other business. They may have a greater likelihood of being sued because of laypeople’s high expectations. Most churches would struggle to survive an expensive lawsuit, and that makes insurance for churches, synagogues, and other religious institutions essential.
One way you can control costs is to get quotes from CoverWallet. As a broker, CoverWallet can submit your religious organization’s information to multiple carriers so that you can compare premiums and policy terms.