So you’re planting a church in your community.  Awesome!

Stating the obvious, planting a church may require you to take risks.  By now you’ve probably done a demographic analysis of your community, gathered a team, assessed some potential meeting places (including your lounge room!), worked out what your ‘vibe’ is and hopefully prayed… a lot!

In all these things, you are making decisions that you believe will achieve a desired outcome, and realistically evaluated where things could go wrong.  When you think about it, Church planting by its very nature involves a lot of assessment and management of risks!

HOW TO MANAGE RISKS

With every risk you take, there are 4 ways that you can manage them:

  • Avoid the risk:  Do something to remove the risk (eg. ban an activity)
  • Transfer the risk:  Make someone else responsible such as a contractor or a third party (eg.  take out insurance or hire a contractor)
  • Mitigate the risk:  Take actions to lessen the impact or chance of the risk occurring (eg. modify an activity to make is safer or less likely to fail)
  • Accept the risk:  You might calculate the risk and decide that it is worth taking on for yourself (eg. Go for it and accept the success or failure for yourself)

Church planters do tend to use a different mix of these strategies than do more established churches.  The reason for this is usually cost and time.

The truth is that transferring risk by taking out insurance can cost a lot of money, and mitigating risk can take a lot of time.  Therefore there is a tendency for planters to avoid risks, by not doing certain things at all, or alternately accepting risks.  While all are legitimate strategies, we encourage you to be intentional about your decisions.

INSURANCE FOR PLANTERS

The most common question asked is; what is the minimum I need to get a church started?  The short answer is that there is no short answer.  It depends on your individual circumstances.

While there is no legal requirement to have any insurance at all, we would recommend at a minimum you have public liability insurance, and then consider property and volunteers insurance.

INSURANCE TYPES EXPLAINED

Realistically church plants don’t need every type of insurance on the market.  However you will see a bunch of jargon around the place, so following are some explanations of the types of insurance:

Public/Products Liability

Your business can be covered against liability to pay compensation to third parties for personal injury or damage to property, including liability arising from the ownership of buildings or land used in connection with the business.

Property / Industrial Special Risks (ISR)

There are a different range of products that can provide insurance protection for loss, damage to or theft of building and contents.  There are also coverage options that include glass, money, plant equipment (eg boiler or instant hot water unit) and accidental damage.

General Property

This is a more comprehensive Australia wide cover of choice for mobile items such as laptops, phones, sound and AV gear, musical equipment and other portable items.

Volunteers Personal Accident

Provides cover for unpaid volunteers.  Typically covers loss of income, capital lump sum benefits and non-Medicare Medical Expenses.

Workers Compensation

Covers your employees for injury whilst at work.  This varies state to state and you should contact your local workers compensation insurer directly for information.

Motor Vehicle

Insurance for commercial and/or private, comprehensive and/or third party

Directors / Board / Office Bearers

This is protection to all office bearers (personally) and the association itself for claims that arise from wrongful acts that are committed whilst they are acting in a capacity on behalf of their association.

Professional Indemnity

Protects a company and its employees against a claim for an act or omission in relation to the professional advice or design they have provided/created 

Employment Practices Liability

This covers your Association for any compensation that it is legally liable to pay for wrongful acts to any employee relating to their employment to the association.

Fidelity

This provides protection for loss of money and property as a direct result of any fraudulent or dishonest acts by directors, employees, committees or volunteers of the association.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON INSURANCE FOR PLANTERS

While there is a large amount of information and detail that could be explained to you, following are some of the top insurance highlights that planters should know:

  1. You are often not covered for public liability by the venue you hire.  The venue will only be responsible for their breach of duty of care.  You will be responsible for your duty of care to members of the public and your congregation… therefore you will be held liable.
  2. A pastor can be held personally liable, as can the board where they have failed to put in place appropriate strategies / processes to deal with things that could go wrong.
  3. If a volunteer is injured while volunteering, they generally not covered by your public liability policy.  Public liability policies only cover ‘third parties.’  A volunteer is usually not considered a third party while they are representing or working for your organization.
  4. New churches planted from a parent or sending church are usually able to have their insurances covered by the sending churches policy initially at exceptionally reduced rates (almost always the best and cheapest way to go).
  5. Your sound and tech gear is generally not covered while you are transporting it back and forth from storage and public meetings.  There are special property insurances for this, so if this is important, you need to check your policy carefully.
  6. If you are having a public meeting in a home or private venue, church activities may not be covered by the owners home and contents policy.  Please check this carefully.

THE PROCESS

Obtaining insurance should be a fairly simple process.

  1. If you are being planted out of a larger church and there are clear ongoing links, ask if your new church can be endorsed into their main insurance policy.
  2. If this is not possible, speak to your denominational insurance representative (usually you will get the best deal through them)!
  3. If you are independent, it should be a fairly simple application process (EA Insurance Services has a 2‑page application).  Using an agent/broker is usually the best way to get good advice as they act of your behalf, but we do recommend that you stick with specialist advisors, as church risk is quite specialised.
  4. Once you have your quote you should look at payment options.  Ansvar Insurance have a facility available to pay by the month.  These payment options may help you with your cash flow and may be more flexible in terms of adjusting your policy midterm if required.

WHEN DO I NEED TO START?

There is no simple answer to this. one It is recommended you have certain insurance in place by the time you start your public meetings, however we suggest that you contact us as to when you need to commence your insurance policies.

MORE INFORMATION

If you have any other questions on insurance or risk management, please contact EA Insurance Services on (03) 9890 6851 or visit our Contact Page