What kind of insurance does a church need?


Insurance may not be the most exciting line item on a ministry budget, but it can protect your church from catastrophic financial losses and is necessary for the long-term well-being of your ministry.

We may think it won’t happen to us, but church buildings still experience severe weather damage, and employees receive life-altering diagnoses. How are you prepared to handle it if it happens to you?

Selecting a policy specifically designed for ministry can prevent massive claim expenses from devastating your church and your mission.

Here’s how to decide on the best insurance for your church.

People, Property and Liability Insurance

When it comes to figuring out insurance for your church, you need to plan for three things:

  1. Covering your people
  2. Protecting your property
  3. Accounting for liability

And in that order! Here’s why.

1. Cover Your People

The first and most essential insurance coverages for a church are life insurance and disability insurance for your pastor and any other employees. The church’s most significant commodity is its people, so it is crucial to prioritize protecting the church and employees’ families should the worst happen. Coverages like life, disability and accident require relatively little budget but offer immensely valuable protection. A good starting point for a basic life insurance policy would be one times salary and allowing the employee to participate in voluntary coverage if they’d like to add more. Don’t forget child life insurance policies, as they are inexpensive and will tremendously help in a time of crisis for a family. On the other hand, so many ministries underestimate the value of disability coverage. We refer to disability insurance as income protection in the industry because it literally helps protect a family’s source of income in the event of illness or injury that leads to a pause in work.

Whether you choose a traditional health insurance provider or a GuideStone church health plan, medical coverage is a highly desirable employee benefit and another life-changing way for your church to care for its people. Planning for health coverage early, even as a small church or church plant, can make a big difference in setting your church up for long-term success. The most traditional coverages are broad network Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans and Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO) plans. PPO plans are what most individuals think of when referring to medical coverage. However, EPO plans also offer a very broad network. The main difference is that EPO plans do not cover out-of-network claims, which can help keep rates down. You can also expand your benefits by adding additional employee coverages, such as dental insurance and vision insurance.

2. Protect Your Property

Property insurance covers your church buildings, property and belongings. If your ministry is damaged, destroyed or the victim of theft, this policy can help minimize financial burdens resulting from a loss. It is recommended to have at least replacement cost coverage in place for your church buildings if you can afford it so that you are not left without a place to worship in case of something like wind, hail or fire.

Other types of coverage recommended to protect your ministry include ordinance and law coverage, which can protect your ministry from indirect losses associated with enforceable city codes to ensure that your ministry is in compliance. There is even coverage for cybercrime, which is becoming more prevalent and can result in damage to ministry data, hardware and loss of money.

3. Account for Liability

As with any organization, churches are open to liability claims when conducting operations or hosting an event. The exact types of liability insurance your church will depend on the scope of your church’s activities. For example, you might consider a policy like commercial auto insurance, which covers people’s injuries and your ministry’s vehicles in the event of an accident. A commercial auto policy can help minimize financial burdens arising from vehicle liabilities, collisions, personal injury, etc. If your church plans mission trips, mission travel insurance can protect your mission teams, whether they are going a few miles down the road or halfway around the world.

Many more options are available through liability and excess liability insurance to guard your ministry, employees, leaders and volunteers from lawsuits, liabilities and losses while protecting what makes your ministry unique. Some of these options include protection for claims against sharing your religious beliefs, responses from your security ministry and decisions made by your ministry leaders.

Finding an Insurance Provider Your Church Can Trust

When considering how many insurance options exist, having a trusted advisor come alongside you and evaluate your ministry needs is incredibly valuable. Not all churches need the same coverage, and the coverage you need depends on your specific church operations, environment and goals.

At GuideStone®, we are here to guide, advocate and provide for churches and ministry nonprofits with benefits and financial resources. As experts in what makes ministry coverage unique, we would love to help you strategically pick the right insurance coverage for your church — taking the whole picture into account.

Want to keep researching your options? Download this Church Insurance Checklist to help keep things organized and clear as you go.