An interview with Ron Wedel:
Unless you're a pastor, church administrator, or ministerial leader, you've probably never thought about church insurance—you may not even know it existed. And yet, church insurance is quietly present in many of our lives, protecting our places of worship.
With that in mind, we thought we'd take a moment to sit down (virtually) with MAA's church insurance agent, Ron Wedel, to get some clear answers on the ins-and-outs of ministry coverage.
What is the most important kind of coverage for a church?
The most important and least expensive insurance for churches is liability coverage, which provides for legal defense in the event of a lawsuit. All ministries should consider general liability coverage.
What would you say is a standard insurance package?
A typical insurance policy will have general liability with endorsements and optional coverages, limited medical coverage for incidental accidents, and various types of property coverage for the church building and personal property.
Who is covered under church insurance?
The definition of insured can vary depending on the type of ministry and the liability coverages selected, but it can potentially extend to the pastor, staff, volunteers—regardless of if they are members or not—and in some cases even visitors.
How is church insurance different from commercial insurance?
Church insurance needs vary so widely, not only because of their unique ministries and related activities, but because buildings are unique and can be expensive to replace and protect. Some churches really are a piece of art and many are historical. Some have antique fixtures and decorations, art, stained glass, and often a lot of wood, marble, granite, and other expensive materials—even gold and silver.
Why is it important for churches to work with agencies like MAA who understand their unique needs?
Some liability coverages are specific to the nature of ministry and have to be crafted to fit the church's needs. Generally speaking, this is where regular commercial insurance fails to provide adequate coverages, which is why it's important to choose an agency that understands church-specific requirements. MAA takes great care when insuring ministries, tailoring coverage to unique needs and activities. For example, a church may need coverage for campers going on a camping trip, missionaries traveling to other countries, or food sales.
What's an example of a blind spot that MAA might help clients see?
MAA specializes in church insurance and other ministry insurance, which can be a very complex policy or group of policies with multiple insurance carriers. Some insurers may overlook adding a necessary church endorsement to their regular commercial insurance policy without realizing that the gaps in coverage might leave the church lacking critical coverage at the time of loss. We aim to make sure that doesn't happen.
Does MAA offer church-related discounts?
Yes; Brotherhood Mutual and Goodville are two of our primary providers that offer various discounts which are generally easy to qualify for. One feature that Brotherhood Mutual offers is a "Loss-Free Deductible Reduction Endorsement," which offers savings for good stewardship. A two-year period without a claim saves 25 percent on your deductible, four years saves 50 percent, six gives 100 percent, subject to the maximum allowable forgiveness of $2,500!
That is an incredible discount!
It is. We love offering these incentives, and very few insurance companies offer this kind of savings.
Why is it important for small ministries to have big coverage?
The simple answer is, because big claims happen! When it comes to buying insurance protection, you have three choices: 1. Pay out of pocket for everything that happens. 2. Have an insurance policy pay for almost everything that happens. 3. You can not do the ministry, eliminating the risk entirely. If the ministry is needed, buying insurance is the logical, most cost-effective decision. When it comes to lawsuits, you are really buying legal defense coverage.
Say more about that. Why legal defense coverage?
When the insurance company's money is at stake, they hire good attorneys to protect it from being lost. When buying insurance coverage, remember: it's not the size of the ministry that drives the size of the coverages, it's the amount of loss potential.
Could you provide an example of a time when a church suffered a loss and MAA was there to help?
I can't share specifics, but it's safe to say that some of our clients have seen claims that would have financially ruined them had it not been for our agency, our team members, and our respective insurance carriers. Some claims are small, just a few thousand dollars, and some are large—several thousand. Some have even been catastrophic, requiring substantial assistance from us and our insurance companies. Most lawsuits have the potential to cost a church millions.
Tell us how MAA takes action in times of crisis like that.
During those times of loss, we at MAA earn our pay, so to speak. We are there for the client when the claim happens. We help plan for when that claim happens, and we help create a plan to lessen the financial impact. We are happy to take our job seriously because if we don't, ministries are at stake, which directly affects people's lives and wellbeing. Here at MAA, we truly are here for you and because of you: Our ministry is to insure your ministry.