One Thing Every Church Needs
The Sunday Night service was powerful, even by Pentecostal standards. The presence of God was overwhelming as people were accepting Christ and miracles were happening. During this atmosphere a member fell backwards and hit her head on the front pew. People helped her up from the floor and asked if she was okay but at the end of the service she complained about a headache and demanded that she be taken to the hospital emergency room.
Everything checked out with her condition, with the exception of a very minor concussion. The Church, out of courtesy, paid for the hospital visit and thought all was well.
Liabilities May Appear Much Later than the Event
The lady left the Church a few months later and moved away without any further contact. Three years later, The Social Security Administration, contacted the Church with a claim for almost $10,000. The claim was for money Welfare had paid doctors and hospitals for services that the woman claimed were as a result of her fall three years earlier.
After months of arguing with the Social Security Administration, the Church won because of videos of the service that clearly showed that the incident was solely the fault of the lady. No one was near her when she fell, nor did she trip.
Another Church was conducting a Halloween event hayride. As the hay wagon was pulling into the parking lot at the completion of the trip, an overly rambunctious child climbed over the railing and fell to his death on the concrete.
The grief-stricken parents were long-time members of the Church and were cared for and consoled, by Church Staff and members, for months. Two years after the incident, the Pastor was served court papers for a lawsuit the family filed two days prior. They were suing the Church for negligence in their son’s death.
For two years everyone, including the Pastor and staff, were somber, yet they felt that the family realized that this was an unfortunate, tragic accident and not the fault or negligence of the Church or its members. No one, including other family members, expected a lawsuit to be filed.
Cover Your ASSETS
In the first scenario, the Church was spared because of cameras operating before, during, and after each service. Cameras were extremely helpful in this incident. However, that is not always the case.
In another scenario, a neighboring Church operated a daycare and one of the children went home with some bruises. When the parents called the daycare, they were told by the teacher and the Director that the child had fallen a couple of times during the day and that another child had hit him. The next day the parents discovered that cameras were installed in the center. They left the daycare and drove straight to an attorney, who filed a lawsuit, in addition to a court-order for the video of the day before. The video clearly showed that the child’s teacher had abused him a couple of times during the day. The camera resulted in a huge settlement for the parents and punishment to the daycare, its Director, while the child’s teacher was banned from any future employment in a childcare setting.
I am not condoning what the teacher did, she should have been fired, but the Director should have viewed the video, taken the necessary action, and then informed the parents. In this scenario, because it was improperly handled, cameras resulted in problems for the childcare center.
In the hayride scenario, the Church was not as fortunate. They were sued for 10 million dollars and the family won. The problem was the Church Liability Insurance. They did not have enough and the Church property was sold at auction to pay the judgment.
Ample Liability Insurance Is a Must
It is amazing the number of Churches that feel as if they do not need insurance or think what they have is enough. Those who do not own their place of worship or are worshiping in the Pastor or member’s home, feel it is a waste of money. Those who are renting somehow feel that the owner’s liability covers them. Those worshiping in their homes, feel as if homeowner’s insurance is sufficient. Both assumptions are false.
Even though the Church may be renting a facility, the owner’s insurance is for his protection. The Church, meanwhile, still has a bank account and it has responsible parties who are liable in the event incidents occur. A lawsuit could not only empty the Church accounts, it could also result civil liability to the Pastor and Church Leaders.
Those worshiping in their homes are not covered by homeowner’s insurance. Should an incident occur and the insurance company becomes aware that the accident was related to a Church meeting in the home, any claims would be denied. The insurance company would consider the Church a separate entity from the homeowner.
Liability Insurance, is not a luxury, it is a necessity. It is one financial obligation a Church must accept. It behooves every Pastor and Church to meet annually with the insurance provider to determine a sufficient amount of coverage needed for the size of their ministry. REMEMBER, ONE MILLION DOLLARS OF COVERAGE IS NOTHING IN TODAY’S WORLD.
When the agent suggests an add-on or an additional rider, it may not be because he is trying to increase the package for a higher commission. He is usually doing it because of information, of which the company is aware, that pose problems for Churches. Not only follow their suggestions – when financially possible, exceed them.
How We Can Help
For 78 years Chitwood & Chitwood has been helping Churches with matters that could greatly jeopardize their ministries. Every year we conduct seminars all across the USA to apprise Pastors and Leaders of the valuable information they need to continue operating their ministries as stress-free as possible.
To attend one of these conferences visit us at www.cmtc.org or call 800-344-0076. Every Pastor and Church Leader should attend a conference nearest their city. You will be glad you did.
Remember, for us “It Is a Ministry – Not a Job!