Safe Sanctuaries, Outside Groups and Local Church Liability

February 26, 2020 | GNJ News

Churches in Greater New Jersey are required to protect children and other vulnerable persons from abuse. Two primary ways we ensure this protection is by requiring all congregations to enact the Safe Sanctuaries program and create written usage agreements with all outside groups, including those that are chartered or sponsored by the congregation.

Information about Safe Sanctuaries and the steps to become compliant can be found in the resource area of both the GNJ website ( and the NextGen website (

Outside groups who use the church building or are chartered or sponsored by the congregation must also have applicable policies in place. Tiffany Lupo, GNJ’s Account Manager at Sovereign Insurance Group advises, “Each church must have written usage agreements including indemnification, hold harmless, waiver of subrogation, minimum limits of insurance, primary and non-contributing wording, certificate naming the church as an additional insured and policy endorsements that show the church is an additional insured.”

The news of the recent bankruptcy filing of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have many congregations asking questions.

BSA have their own policies in place to protect youth. BSA does background checks on volunteers every two years at minimum and requires each participant to be certified every two years as trained with testing in their constantly updated Youth Protection Program.

In addition, Lupo reports that the usage agreement provides coverage for the church under the BSA insurance policy.

All congregations who charter, sponsor or host outside organization are encouraged to review the Safe Sanctuary Policy and usage agreements.
If you have additional questions about a specific situation in the church with regard to outside groups and insurance agreements, please contact Sovereign Insurance Senior Account Manager Tiffany Lupo at 610-535-6800 x3389 or