While the winds and rains from Hurricane Harvey have finally begun to taper off for residents along the Texas and Louisiana coastlines, the cleanup effort will likely be measured in months and years — not days and weeks.
To aid churches as they face the daunting tasks of rebuilding, GuideStone® offers tips for churches and ministries faced with property damage and claims.
Gaelen Cole, senior manager of risk and compliance for GuideStone's Property and Casualty area, says churches should consider four main steps:
First, promptly report the claim, even though the extent of the damage may not be fully known. Those insured through GuideStone's Property and Casualty partner Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company should call them at 1-800-333-3371.
Second, Cole said almost every policy requires that reasonable steps be taken to protect covered property to avoid further loss. The costs may be covered under the policy, so prompt reporting of the claim can allow for discussions of that coverage with your insurance carrier.
Third, it's important to have a thorough review of the property, looking for damage that may not be as evident.
"Some churches, especially those dealing with so many pressing needs, delegate this task and don't give it the attention it deserves," Cole said. "It's important that this be done thoroughly by a professional whenever possible."
Fourth, providing proof of loss is also an important step, Cole said. Most insurance companies require that this be provided within 60 days of the insurer's request for it. Churches have to consider everything from audio/visual equipment to chairs to nursery gear to office furniture in their losses. Pictures, videos and inventories are useful for determining loss.
Cole said it's important for churches to speak with their property and casualty insurance agents, as there may be coverage for ministry interruption that can help churches who miss offerings as well as to be able to continue to meet in temporary facilities. This coverage is offered to churches using Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company.
"We have seen evidence that most churches are able to maintain their giving during the weeks after a disaster, but churches must consider the expense of renting temporary quarters while they rebuild," Cole said.
GuideStone is also standing by to assist churches and ministries with questions about their retirement or life and health benefits. Retirement questions can be directed to 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433), and questions about life and health plans can be directed to the new dedicated line: 1-844-INS-GUIDE (1-844-467-4843).
"We are reminded of and are clinging to the promise recorded in Isaiah that 'when you pass through the waters, the Lord will be with you,'" said GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins. "We have watched with prayer and thanksgiving the outpouring of love on the people of Rockport, Victoria, Houston, Beaumont, New Orleans and all of those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, and all who have served as Christ's hand extended during these days. It is our hope and plan to continue in our role as a lifelong partner with our participants in enhancing their financial security as our neighbors walk through these challenges brought on by Hurricane Harvey."