General Liability Coverage Information
Many churches have inquired about liability coverage and risk as they plan how to best reopen their organizations. Church Mutual has numerous COVID-19 resources to assist you with best practices at their website.
As we develop our plan for reopening, we are mindful that we are making good faith decisions about what will keep our staff and congregation safe and healthy. We recognize, however, that despite our good intentions, there may still be a situation where someone tracks back a case of COVID—19 to attending one of our services. Will our liability insurance cover such situations?
As a general principle, Church Mutual recommends you comply with all state and local laws and ordinances related to COVID-19. General liability policies do have an exclusion for the “willful violation of a penal statute or ordinance committed by or with the knowledge or consent of any insured.”
If holding worship services in a manner that violates such law or ordinances, general liability coverage may not apply if there is a claim against the insured arising out of the holding of such worship service.
The following are helpful resources and information provided by Church Mutual:
What do we need to do/provide for our renters to return safely to our congregations?
Many of our churches lease space to outside organizations–other congregations, child-care centers, 12-step organizations, scout troops, or other entities. The Book of Discipline requires churches to enter into leases with such organizations and have the leases approved by the District Board of Church Location and Buildings. For information on the requirements by the District Board of Church and Location, please review GNJ’s District pages here.
The Covid-19 epidemic makes having such agreements between our churches and organizations leasing buildings from churches more critical than ever. We recommend that churches not allow other organizations to resume operations in their buildings unless the following requirements are in place:
- A valid lease between the outside entity and the church.
- Proof of liability insurance from the lessee at levels recommended by Church Mutual.
- A removal of any exclusion on the insurance policy for viruses.
- A plan for adhering to the directives of state and local government and the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control.
- Approval by the District Board of Church Location and Buildings.
If a church is unable to achieve the third requirement, the church leadership should meet to determine whether the value of the lease is worth the church’s accepting exposure of a lawsuit resulting from Covid-19 or another virus.
Following are guidelines provide by Church Mutual:
Should we ask renters or members of the congregation to sign waivers?
If a church wishes to require waivers from members of its congregation and from visitors, you can find information on waivers at Church Mutual here.