Church Insurance Should Include Volunteers

When it comes to business insurance, churches are in many ways just like other businesses. All businesses must assess their specific risks and buy the appropriate insurance to guard against those risks, and churches are no different.

On the other hand, churches differ in many ways. One primary difference is that churches often use volunteers more than paid employees. A church not only needs to protect itself from being sued due to the actions of a volunteer acting on its behalf, it also needs to protect the volunteers while they are performing their work.

Consider the following:

• How many volunteers do we have?
• What types of jobs do they do?
• What do they need to be protected from?
• What does the church need to be protected from?

Protect the Church

A church needs liability insurance that provides coverage in the event that it is sued due to the actions of a volunteer acting on its behalf. Church liability insurance might require the church to follow certain rules for volunteers, such as requiring applications and background checks, and asking volunteers to sign waivers of liability in certain situations. These waivers ask the volunteers to agree to assume the risk of an injury or illness that they might suffer while working on behalf of the church.

Protect the Volunteers

Injuries do happen while volunteers are working in community service, fundraising, social functions and other church-related activities. Volunteers are not employees of the church, but if they suffer an injury while working for the church, they might be entitled to some sort of compensation.

Churches are not exempt from workers’ compensation laws, but these laws do vary by state. Your insurance agent can help you determine if there are any workers’ compensation requirements for church volunteers.

It is always a good idea to hold volunteer training sessions, particularly for large or risky projects, so that each volunteer has learned appropriate safety procedures and protocols. This is also a great time to hand out waivers.

If volunteers are performing the majority of the work in your church, they will play a major role in assessing and insuring the risks to your ministry. In addition to liability and workers’ compensation coverage, volunteers can affect health insurance, bonds, and travel/international operations insurance.

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