Does Your Church Own a Parsonage, Dwelling, or Manse?
- A recent claim occurred at a Louisiana church in which a pastor’s boat was parked in the PARSONAGE garage and the wind blew a large tree down on the structure, demolishing the boat.
- Lightning struck the parsonage at another Louisiana church, causing a fire that destroyed the building and destroyed all the minister’s contents located inside the structure.
- A pastor, living in a church parsonage, had a friendly dog that was fenced. The neighbor’s granddaughter wandered into the fenced yard and was bitten severely in the face, requiring several surgeries.
- A home owned by a church was rented to a tenant. The tenant’s son, practicing his archery skills in the yard, shot an arrow that glanced off the target stand and went into the neighbor’s outside central air conditioner coils requiring replacement of the unit.
All of these claims share one thing in common – THE BOAT, THE PASTOR’S CONTENTS, THE DOG BITE, and the neighbor’s AIR CONDITIONER ARE NOT COVERED BY CHURCH INSURANCE POLICIES. Each loss involved either property owned by the resident and not the church, or was a result of the actions of the resident and not the church. The CHURCH policy did cover the damage to the garage caused by the tree and the loss of the parsonage building caused by the fire.
Many pastors or staff reside in a dwelling owned by the church. On occasion, churches will rent out their dwellings to a tenant if not needed for their pastor. This presents an insurance need for the church and a separate insurance need for the resident. Churches must insure what they own and a resident, tenant, pastor, must insure separately what he owns.
If you have a dwelling at your church, inform the occupant that they need to obtain a RENTERS POLICY (or Homeowners 4 Policy) to insure their contents inside the building and provide liability for their personal negligent actions. Their auto agent can probably provide this policy and get them multi-policy discounts.
Many churches pay the cost of these RENTER POLICIES as a benefit for their pastors. However the policy must have the resident as the NAMED INSURED, regardless of who pays the small premium. These policies will provide PROPERTY coverage to insure the resident’s personal property (tables, chairs, clothes, TV, computers, boats, etc.) As well, these policies include LIABILITY to protect the resident for accidents and lawsuits resulting from their personal negligence.
If your church owns a dwelling, please make the congregation and resident aware of this information. This may prevent a future claim in which no coverage is available, and resolves a potential major problem for the church and the resident.