What Liability Coverages Should a Church Have?

Adam Murray
Written on May 15, 2018

In some ways, insurance hasn’t changed much over the years. If your building burns down, insurance has always been there to replace it. If you crash your car, your friendly neighborhood insurance agent was there with a settlement check. For churches, however, there has been growing exposures that from time to time are often overlooked. Most overlooked are liability coverage’s.

In this article, I will discuss 3 major exposures for churches that are often overlooked in their insurance coverage.


1. Sexual Abuse

This coverage provides liability protection for a church in the event of a sexual abuse allegation. While it is true that you rarely find a church without this coverage, it is also true that most churches carry a surprisingly low amount of coverage for this exposure. Here are three reasons why this is a problem.

  • You never know how much will be awarded in a lawsuit.  If you totaled your vehicle, you have a pretty good idea how much it will cost to replace. Conversely, you never know how much a judge or jury might award in a sexual abuse lawsuit. These are very volatile situations, often with multiple parties involved. Make sure you carry a high limit.
  • No Umbrella. Carrying an umbrella over your liability coverage’s is a great way to protect your church. However, the majority of umbrella policies do not extend coverage over the sexual abuse coverage. Be careful not to rely on your umbrella to protect you.
  • Defense Costs. Most policies provide unlimited defense costs until a settlement is paid out. If you are carrying a low limit for sexual abuse coverage, your company is more likely to settle, leaving you to deal with paying for defense. However, if you carry a higher limit, your company is likely to stay there and defend you longer.


2. Religious Freedom

Churches have a monumental exposure when it comes to the expression of their religious beliefs and convictions. Religious Freedom coverage is a great way to protect the church from (but not limited to) lawsuits stemming from:

  • The church’s stance on marriage.
  • The performing or refusal to perform weddings for a variety of reasons.
  • Gender identity issues.


3. Cyber Liability

Finally, over the last couple of years, we have seen an increase in cyber-attacks. Churches are not exempt from this exposure. Be sure the insurance that you purchase for your church includes a strong cyber policy that can protect you from these and many other exposures:

  • Network Security Liability
  • Privacy Liability
  • Ransomware
  • Phishing Schemes
  • Data Restorations


Being a pastor, director of operations, or board member at a church is no light responsibility. There are a lot of things to consider when protecting your church. Everything from limits and coverage’s, to risk management techniques and protocols. Be sure to find a professional, local agent who specializes in providing churches with these services.