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Risk Management Minute

Valuable Information to Help You Protect Your Ministry

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Jessica Gleason

Jessica Gleason

Welcome to our Risk Management Minute Blog! My name is Jessica and I joined the First Insurance Group team in 2008. I began working in the Church Division in 2009 and as part of my job began to learn about the specific needs Churches face in regards to Risk Management. We have made it our goal to not only supply you with relevant information, but to take the work out of risk management by creating forms for you to print and use. Have questions on a topic we have yet to cover? Let me know! I will gladly do the research and provide any information I can.

It seems these days you can’t turn on the news or walk around a park without being surrounded by a new game called Pokemon Go. Some of you may even be avid players of the game while others are left scratching your heads wondering what on earth a pokemon gym is. Don’t worry, you are a not alone.

Pokemon Go is a game people play on their phones or other electronic devices. Its main goal is to encourage people to move, walk, explore etc. As you move around town you come across various pokemon creatures that you capture using your device’s camera. These pokestops can be found in parks, municipal buildings and churches. 

So what does this mean for your ministry?

Depending on the proximity of your ministry to town you may have noticed random people wondering around your parking lot staring at their phones then doing a victory dance. In this case, you are most likely a pokestop. If your location is more rural you probably are not listed.

Now, is this a good or a bad thing?

The answer to this question is twofold and depends on your ministry.

1. If your ministry runs a school / daycare or you are hosting a children’s program like VBS you probably don’t want to encourage strangers trespassing around your building.

2. If your ministry does not host the above programs you could view this as a potential outreach opportunity.  Many churches are taking advantage of the new foot traffic and posting signs encouraging pokemon go users. 

“We are so much more than just a pokestop! Gotta Catch ‘Em All! Matthew 28:19.”
“Instead of chasing Pokemon, Chase Jesus.”
“We’re Not a Poke’Stop, Sorry. But we are a Jesus Stop.”
“Worship 10 AM. Welcome Pokemon Go Trainers.”
“We are a pokestop. Get Supplies outside, find Jesus inside.”
“Looking for Pokemon or Jesus? Both found here.”
“Come for Pokemon, stay for Church.”

So how do you proceed based on what is best for your ministry?

1. Determine what objects from the game are located on the church property before entering the property. Anyone who has downloaded the game can determine this. Depending on the distance the player does not always need to be on your property to play the game.

2. If your ministry determines this is not something you want to support you can post signage like the image below. You can download it by clicking on the PDF button. You can also contact Niantic Labs here in order to remove your location as a pokestop.

                                                         b2ap3_thumbnail_Pokemon-PDF.jpg
                                                                                     Pokemon-PDF.pdf

While pokemon go players can bring concern they can also bring new outreach opportunities. It is important to discuss with your board what you believe is best for your ministry. As always, if you have questions or concerns feel free to contact us! 





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Imagine ten teenagers at your house playing croquet. Now they decide your garage roof is the optimum putting green. You, being a youth pastor, think this is an excellent idea despite your wife’s protests. Welcome to my life as a teenager. I know I’ve talked about it before, but my youth group growing up did some pretty crazy things. I have to laugh at God’s planning of me working with ministries educating them on risk management when my child hood consisted of breaking all the rules I would advise today!

The nature of churches is to create and host events that bring the community in. While these showstopper ideas may draw a crowd, you need to think about the potential impact they could have on your ministry. If you build it they will come. While that saying is true, creating a motorcycle ramp to perform a jump over six cars is not the ideal event your ministry should be considering.  

Yes, you have church insurance. However, your insurance was designed to cover standard church related events. Target practice in the parking lot on Wednesday nights does not fall under standard church activities. These types of events may require a special insurance policy which would be an additional premium. Learn more about these coverages here: Evaluating Events

Most importantly it is important to consider the impact these events could have on your ministry should you have a claim. Let’s say you decided to host an archery camp. While the kids are practicing loading their arrows, a child accidentally misfires and severely injures another child. If you haven't already set up a special events policy or received approval from your current carrier for this activity your ministry is not protected. Now think about the thousands of dollars in medical bills, and the inevitable law suit that follows from the injured child's family. Does your ministry have the financial means to survive this accident? Even if you do, was hosting an archery camp worth it? 

If you are thinking about hosting any sort of event please give us a call. It is important to make sure that coverage is in place before accidents happen. 

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I am all about technology. At any given time my desk has three computer screens, a tablet, my iphone and sometimes my mini iPad. Efficiency is a priority around here and three screens are more efficient than one!  One of the ways we are trying to bring efficiency to you is through new software we started incorporating this year called Hello Sign.

Hello Sign is digital signature software that allows us to send a document to you and collect a digital signature in just a few clicks. Every year our insurance carriers require us to obtain a new signed copy of your statement of values along with your renewal policy. So instead of us emailing the document, you printing, scanning and re-emailing we have streamlined the process for you.

Simply open up the email you have received. In it will be a note from us explaining what the document is, and asking you to sign it in the highlighted fields. You will follow the prompts of the program, sign and date. The program will then send us a copy and save a copy for your own records automatically. When I watched it work for the first time I did a little dance of joy around my desk!

Now you will no longer dread seeing emails from us asking for a signature! I know you did, it’s ok to admit it. If you have other thoughts of ways we could make your client experience more efficient we would love to hear from you!  

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In this economy churches, like everyone else, are looking for ways to save money. Ministries approach us looking for ways to trim down their coverage in order to help their struggling budgets.  While we have written your policy with the coverages in place we feel are important and will best protect your ministry, we also understand sometimes you need to make some adjustments for a period of time. So the following are some suggestions for cutting costs.

1. Eliminate the Pastor’s Salary
2. Host Candlelight services to save on electricity
3. Suggest your members tithe twice a week

Just kidding. Although humorous I doubt these ideas are realistic!

1. Removing your Umbrella Coverage. Your umbrella provides an additional $1,000,000 of coverage that sits on top of your auto, general liability, and work comp. The average premium is between $500-$700 annually. While we feel this coverage is important to have in place, if you needed to save money for a time being you can remove this policy.

2. Removing Endorsements. Some carriers charge a premium for various endorsements to your policy while other carriers include them free of charge. Sometimes these endorsements elevate your policy from basic to superior coverage. Removing them will obviously decrease coverage and we would prefer to discuss with you to educate you on what coverage you will be losing prior to removal. Again, some carriers include these free of charge so there would be no savings and no reason to remove.

3. Parking Church Vehicles. If your ministry does not use your church vehicles on a regular basis you may consider parking them and removing coverage for a time being. This would eliminate premium on something that has minimal use. Just remember that they should not be driven at all without coverage in place.

Sometimes people call wanting to decrease the value of their building in order to cut cost. We do not recommend this course of action. On average, $100,000 of building value equals $150 of premium annually. If you under insure a building and have a claim, you will be faced with a co-insurance penalty. This means that you co-insure the loss to the same percentage that you under insured the building. While you may have saved $300 on your property premium, it will now cost you $70,196 in order to restore you building. 

                                             b2ap3_thumbnail_CoinsuranceVisualizer1.jpg

Having proper insurance in place is vital to your ministry. If you're late on your electric bill and they cut the power you can always have it turned back on. But if you have insufficient coverage when you have a claim, your ministry may not survive. If your ministry needs help with decreasing coverage for the time being, give us a call so we can properly advise you to make sure your still have adequate protections in place. 

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I have been in my house for seven years now. With owning your home comes space and with space inevitably comes clutter. I am at the point where I want to toss 85% of the stuff in my garage, only I need someone to haul it away for me. My Honda civic is great on mileage but fairly deficient at hauling.

However, sometimes you have items that need to be saved and don’t have the space on site to store them. Thankfully storage units exist for just this purpose!

Set Scene: Your church has excess sound equipment and lighting that you only use a few times a year for big productions. With nowhere to conveniently store it you decide to rent a unit at secure looking facility.  You drop off your equipment and go about your day. Six months later you get a call that there was a series of break-ins and your unit was hit and all of your equipment is gone. What do you do?  Is this covered? Take this quiz below to find out.

 

 

Aside from theft there are many reasons to make sure your property is protected. My parents had a storage unit when I was in college. Our town had the worst flood in over 100 years and the unit was flooded almost to the rafters. I still remember using oxy clean to get the stains out of my American Girl Doll clothes! Like any property claim, your insurance deductible would apply to the storage unit contents as well.

If you have a storage unit and aren’t sure if you have coverage in place feel free to give us a call! We can either confirm coverage, or get that location added to your policy! 

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We all have routines. Every morning I get in the car, hit the garage door button and back out. My friend recently drove my car and immediately joked about not being able to back up since she has a rear view camera and I don’t.  Looking at her screen was so innate to her routine that she had forgotten to actually use her mirrors! Recently the Insurance world has been hit with a surge of auto claims so I thought it would be good to remind you of some vehicle safety tips.

1. Vehicle Inspection
Use our vehicle inspection sheets to document the state of your church vehicles before driving. How do you do this? Create a routine. Keep a clipboard in the bus, van, etc. You can access a vehicle inspection form in our risk management library. To read more about vehicle inspection importance check out this blog. Vehicle Inspection

2. Driver safety
Did you know there is a proper way to load a 15 passenger van? Did you know there is a different way you should take an exit ramp if you are in a vehicle with a higher center of gravity? It is important to educate your regular drivers with driver training videos.  You can access these videos in our video library, where you drivers can submit their name with proof of training. Also, check out this blog on driver training. Driver Training

3. Approved Drivers
If you have anyone who is driving the church vehicles on a regular basis make sure to send them to us. The insurance carriers will run a motor vehicle report on the driver to check their record. If they are approved we will add them to the policy as a regular driver.

4. Who Should Drive      
Should you have teenagers drive others to a church activity? The answer is no! A teenager driving to a church activity of their own accord is one thing. Asking a teenager to drive on behalf of the church is another. If you have a teenager drive other teens to an outing you are essentially putting the church’s liability in the hands of a sixteen year old. You are responsible for the safety of the minors when they are under you care, ie a youth activity.  

5. Parking 
When parking a church vehicle, we recommend choosing a spot that you can pull forward instead of needing to back out. The majority of church auto claims are do to hitting something when backing out, mainly in the church parking lot! 

While you can't control what happens with the other drivers around you, you can make sure to do your part to protect the safety of those in your care. 

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When it comes to insurance most people know the basics. I pay my premium and it’s legal to drive my car. My barn catches on fire I call the insurance company, after the fire department of course. What about workers compensation? Sometimes I wish it was a jeopardy category.  I’ll take work comp for $300 Alex.

Today I want to help remove the shroud of mystery surrounding workers compensation. 

 

 

                

 

Did you catch all that? The following shows both scenarios in a flow chart for you visual learners. The green scenario is a Med Pay only claim. That means that the injured work was written back to work on light duty by the doctor. There is no loss time and therefor no penalty. The blue scenario is a loss time claim. That means that the injured worker is written off work and stays home past the seven day mark. On day eight it becomes a loss time claim and and the penalties will occur. 

                                                     b2ap3_thumbnail_work-comp-flow-chart.jpg

The key to avoiding loss time claims is getting a doctor to agree to write the patient back to work on light duty. In order for him to do so, you need to show that you have a Return to Work Program in place. So what is a return to work program? Great question! A return to work program is set up to accompany light duty work in the event of an injury. To start off you will need to make an injured workers packet that consists of three documents.  We are going to use a secretary and a janitor as examples. 

 

1. Job Analysis 
A job analysis form documents the physical requirements of your job. A secretary's JA may consist of walking, sitting, simple grasping, typing, operating office equipment, lifting under 25lbs, ability to write, etc. While a janitor's JA may consist of walking, bending, climbing, lifting over 25lbs, power grasping, operating machinery etc. This job analysis conveys to the doctor the physical requirements of your job and want tasks you can and cannot perform with your injury. 

2. Letter to Treating Doctor 
This letter explains to the doctor that you have a return to work program and are willing to comply with any light duty requirements he prescribes. It is easier to get a doctor to recommend light duty at the beginning than to get a doctor to change his mind after writing the injured work off. That is asking a doctor to admit he is wrong and good luck with that! 


3. Return to Work Status Form 
This form allows the doctor to prescribe light duty filling out the restrictions based on the job description. 


Now here is the easy part. Our risk management library is filled with pre-filled job analysis forms, letter to treating doctor and the return to work status form. All you have to do is download them! We recommend that you make these packets for each type of job and have them ready to go in case of an injury. You are far more likely to be successful at implementing a return to work program if these are accessible to grab n go. 

As always if you have an injury or aren't sure if something falls under the scope of work comp, please call us immediately! We want to help guide you from day one in order to prevent penalties. 

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Happy July 4th! Time to celebrate our nation's freedom with family and friends. This year we thought it would be fun to give you a crash course in US History! 

                             

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As your partner in Risk Management there are a lot of important things we advise you to do. We spend a lot of time talking to ministries about issues they are facing, researching problems, precedents and trying to discover solutions on behalf of you, our clients.  

One of the topics we feel is most prevalent is Sexual Misconduct. Last year there were over 11,000 law suits against churches, the number one being sexual misconduct claims. The key to protecting your ministry against these allegations is to remove the liability from the ministry and place it on the perpetrator, not the location.  The following are things your ministry should have in place and we’ve got them ready for you to implement.  In our Risk Management Document section you will find all the forms mentioned below. Simply click on each one and an automatic download will begin of an editable word doc.

Sexual Misconduct Policy
Want to know how to conduct a sexual misconduct meeting with your staff? Head over to our video library for a tutorial on this very topic! Download the sexual misconduct policy and check out this blog for in depth reading. Startling Statistics

Background Checks
In order to have sexual misconduct coverage in place the carriers require you to conduct background checks on any member who works with the youth. You can find these forms in our library, as well as a fact sheet for Intellicorp, a national background check company.  Check out this blog for further in depth reading. Why Background Checks Should No Longer Be Considered Optional

Meeting Minutes 
When adopting any policy it is important to have documentation. We recommend documenting this documentation in your monthly meeting minutes. Check out this blog for further reading. Meeting Minutes

As always, if you have questions about where to find a document, how to implement a policy, or you need something and aren't sure we have something for it, please give us a call! 

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I have always had an itch for travel. There is so much on this beautiful earth to explore, which is why I don’t like going to the same places twice! I know lots of people who enjoy going to Florida or Pigeon Forge every year for vacation but not me. I want the adventure! Dad and I have talked about taking a trip for years and we finally did it! He gave me a budget and I made all the arrangements. Basically I was his personal tour guide! So where did I decide to take my Dad? Eastern Europe of course!  We went to Prague, Vienna and Budapest.

There are a few things you should know before traveling abroad.

1. Pack light! We each had a small carry on suitcase for the duration of our trip. This makes traveling on planes, buses, subways, etc incredibly easy. You really don’t need as much as you think you do!

2. Passport
While sitting on the plane I was commenting that my driver’s license was going to renew in a few months but that I still had 2 years left on my passport. After hearing this Dad quickly scrambled to find his passport and discovered he had 6 months left before it expired! So make sure to check the date before boarding the plane!

3. Health Insurance
Did you know that your personal medical insurance does not extend outside of the United States? That means if you are injured overseas and return to the US for treatment, you coverage will be void. We purchased policies for our trip in less than five minutes through MedEx Assist. You simply put the dates of your travel, your destinations, and your age.  Two policies for our trip cost a total of $60. Here is a blog link to learn more. International Travel

 

4. Bring a Map
When I go out of the country I don't purchase an international data plan. I am there to explore and learn, not to be on my phone! That also means that I cannot use my phone's GPS to figure out where I am, which is just fine with me. I am a big fan of Streetwise maps. They are easy to fold, laminated and show the public transit lines so it's easy to navigate. 

We had an amazing trip and created so many wonderful memories. I'm fortunate enough that I get to work with my Dad every day, but getting to travel abroad was even better and something I will never forget! Below is a video with a few snippets from our trip! 

                       

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It's bonus blog time! We love researching and writing these blogs for you every week but we want to know your take on them. Feedback, we want it! To make sure you are getting the most out of our blog and website we have a simple interactive quiz below. There's only eight questions, and regardless of your answers we will give you a passing grade! By taking a moment to answer the questions it provides us will valuable insight on how to be the best we can be for you! So come on, click the button. You know you want to. 

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Years ago we had a dream of creating a risk management system for churches. We started with researching and writing a couple sample policies in order to help our ministries.  Then we decided to create an entire risk management manual and deliver one to each of our pastors. What we discovered is that our churches now owned another book. Those sample policies, although in the manual, weren’t doing the ministry any good if they weren’t being adopted and implemented.

So now, we have a new idea and we think you might approve. Take your current risk management manual. Not sure where it is? It’s probably on a shelf! *insert sarcasm* Now, remove all the sample policies and throw them away, leaving only the dividing tabs. Why are we telling you to do that? Pick your jaw up off your desk and I’ll explain.

Those sample policies will not help you in a lawsuit anymore than a dictionary; unless you want to look up the definition of lawsuit. The only way they become useful is if you actually adopt them, and can show documentation of when that adoption occurred.  For further reading on policy adoption check out this blog. Meeting Minutes

On our website we have a risk management library for our clients to use. Simply log in and go to risk management documents. See, we made it really simple for you. From there you click on a policy and it will automatically download.  Most of our policies use the term “Sample Church” in the forms. You can use the “Find & Replace” tool in Microsoft word to replace sample church with the name of your ministry.  

As you work your way through tweaking the samples to make them your own, print them out and add them to your folder under the appropriate tabs. Once they have been adopted I recommend putting a copy of the meeting minutes with that policy in the manual. That way if you are ever questioned as to the origin date, it will be easy to find.  As to documenting communication of the sexual misconduct policy for example, have a sign in sheet for everyone who has received a copy. Place that sheet in the manual with your sexual misconduct policy as well.

The purpose of this to make sure that the risk management manual sitting on your shelf is full of policies and procedures you have agreed upon, adopted, documented and communicated to your congregation. That is what makes the manual priceless. 

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It’s a snowy Saturday. You, being the youth pastor, decide it’s a great day to hit the powder. You call up a couple of your teenagers and invite them along to Brother John’s house, who had extended the invite to use his snowmobiles anytime. You are having a great day until you run the snowmobile into a rock tearing up the engine and doing several thousand dollars of damage. Now what? Is there coverage?


Let’s talk about two scenarios. First off, let’s say this was a sanctioned church activity. Would there be coverage? Most church policies are written under “Special” form. Special form means that if a named peril isn’t listed as excluded, then it is covered. Since snowmobiles aren’t listed there would be coverage. However, here is a caveat to this. Just because something is not listed as excluded does not mean that the insurance carrier would approve of said activity. Juggling fire isn’t listed, but the standard church policy was not written to generally cover whatever you can dream up. Although they would pay the claim, chances are they would issue a non renewal and then you struggle finding insurance with this type of claim on your loss record.

Second scenario. This isn’t a church activity. The youth pastor decided on his own to call up a few kids and head over to a friend’s house on the weekend. No announcements were made at church, no permissions slips gathered, and no notification given to the insurance company to advise if this was an activity they would approve of.  Simply put, this was not a church activity. Therefore the church insurance does not apply and would not provide coverage. The owner of the snowmobile would need to file the claim on his own insurance. The same as if Brother John’s cousins came over and wrecked the snowmobile. Their employers would not be responsible.

The main thing to take away from this is to consider what events your ministry is promoting. Make sure you gather the proper release forms and if you’re not sure if it falls under the scope of your policy give us a call! That is what we are here for!  No event is worth risking your ministry. I’ve also included some links to some previous blogs going more in depth on the subject.
Evaluating Events 
Handing Over the Keys Can Be The Same As Handing Over Your Insurance

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At First Insurance Group we are proud to support our troops all year long, but particularly on this day dedicated to honoring our heroes. It is important to remember our history in order to shape our future. So here is a look at the history of Memorial Day. Celebrate and profess your thanks to these brave men and women. Happy Memorial Day! 

                       

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Spring Cleaning. Two words I semi-dread every year. I like the process of organizing and purging clutter, but I’m not a fan of the actual cleaning portion. Most churches have a volunteer day where members come and deep clean the facility a couple times a year.

Ellen, a devout member for many years, participates in the volunteer cleaning day every spring.  They have people sign up, and provide a luncheon as a thank you. While cleaning out the kitchen cabinets, she happened to lose her balance on the step stool she was currently perched on and falls to the floor breaking her arm. Poor Ellen!

Now, it’s question time. Take the quiz below to determine if Ellen’s injury is covered under Med Pay or Workers Compensation coverage.


Now that we've determined what policy will cover Ellen's injuries I have another question for you. Is a Pastor required to be covered under a workers compensation policy if he has a 1099? 

Let's do our work comp formula. Did he do work? Was he compensated? If the answer is yes to both of those, he is required under state law to be covered under a work comp policy. Now, let's say he doesn't receive a salary. He's retired and instead of financial compensation the church lets him and his wife live in the parsonage. Is that considered compensation? Yes. In exchange for performing pastoral duties you received housing. That is compensation. The same is true for receiving a church vehicle to drive, or a housing allowance, or just giving a bonus at the end of the year. 

If you do not have a workers compensation policy and someone is injured on your premises while working, even if volunteering and they were compensated be it financially or other wise, you have a problem. Not only will your current insurance not cover the claim, but the state will be notified and you will be fined upwards of $7,000.  The average work comp policy premium with $100,000 or less of clerical payroll runs less than $700. As my Dad likes to say, you can't afford to save that much! 

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With the warm weather approaching that means summer activities. The first thing that springs to mind in particular is youth activities. My youth group growing up was notorious for constantly creating new and dangerous games. No rules wiffle ball, which included physically running with bases, tackling people and at one point using the ball to tag someone out. I told you, we were dangerous! Hopefully your summer plans are much safer but how do you plan on communicating them to your youth group members?

Text?
Email?
Facebook?
Snapchat?
Instagram?
Twitter?

Have I lost you with all these words? Technology has become such a prevalent and easy way of communicating and is primarily your main source of contact with teenagers. However, if safe guards are not in place the church could be liable for inappropriate communication. This is why we recommend adopting a Communication Policy. This will outline what your ministry deems appropriate methods of communication along with a consent form that allows the parents to decide how they would like you to contact their child.

Sarah’s parents have signed off that texting is an approved form of communication for their teenager. The church bus is running late and you need to change the drop off time of an event from 6:00pm to 6:30pm. You can easily text Sarah the update, but it should be a group text that includes Sarah’s mother as well.


Pastor Tom, the youth director has a facebook page and gets lots of friend requests from his youth group. However, he does not accept them on his personal page because he does not represent the church ministry on his private accounts and therefore does not interact with the minors. Instead, he creates a Church facebook account or a youth group page and invites the teens to follow that account. He has assigned multiple youth leaders to be administrators on that account so that all communication is transparent and monitored by multiple parties.

As with all things documentation is important. You need evidence of adopting this Communications policy in your meeting minutes, a sign in sheet showing all youth workers have received this policy and the signed consent form from each parent.

While you cannot prevent bad situations from occurring, you can remove the liability from the church in showing you were not negligent in addressing this communication issues.

Clients: To download the Communications Policy & Consent form please visit our library. Simple log-in on the home screen. If you do not have an account, click the register button. From there select the Ministry Risk Management Tab at the top of the page and select Risk Management Documents. Scroll down to the Risk Transfer section and once selected each document will automatically download.


 How to Correct Your Church Communication before Tragedy Strikes

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Each week we send out blogs with pertinent information pertaining to your ministries. We talk about policies you should adopt, procedures you should incorporate and things that are happening you should be aware of. While we have talked about this before, I feel that it is one of the most important steps you can take in protecting your ministry. I'm referring to our Risk Management Assessment. 

Have you ever received a text message, read it, and hours later realized you forgot to respond? Mentally you processed the info and most likely reached a conclusion, but physically you did nothing. The same can be said of our blogs. You read them each week, hopefully, and may think to yourself, that is something we need to be doing! However, as soon as that thought is finished you've moved onto the next task never actually incorporating said policy. 

So although most times we have the best intentions, things can slip through the cracks. That's where our Risk Management Assessment comes into play. Take a few minutes and do some examination of where you ministry falls. This is not for us to chastise you, or tattle tail to anyone. It is designed so that we both can be aware of the areas you still need to work on and we can help you accomplish those tasks. We've already done 90% of the work and are happy to help you complete the remaining 10%. So take our Risk Management Assessment. Even if you can't complete it today, set a reminder on your phone or schedule a time in your calendar when you have flexibility. I promise this will be the best thing you ever do for your ministry. 

Risk Management Assessment 


 

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First Insurance Group is excited to announce we will be speaking at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church Preaching & Ministry Conference, April 12 - 14, 2016. 

As we've mentioned before, it has always been our goal to help ministries in any way we can. We are excited and thankful to be partnering with Mt. Zion Baptist Church to bring some insight on insurance and risk management to the attendees. 

Mt. Zion also puts out a wonderful publication called The Flaming Torch. which I highly recommend you subscribe. Flaming Torch 


While there is not enough life in us to write insurance for every Church out there, we love the opportunity to help educate ministries on how to protect themselves through our Risk Management Seminars. If you know of a preacher's conference you have enjoyed attending in the past, we would love to hear from you. Our dream is to educate as many Pastors as possible! 

If you would like more information on the conference, check out the link below. 

Preaching & Ministry Conference 

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Flood. A single word no one wants to hear. Unlike Noah, the typical notification of water heading your way is short to nonexistent.  Water starts filling the streets turning your once land locked building into water front property. Before you start gathering fire wood and naming your volley ball Wilson, there are some things you should know.

Flood is defined as surface water coming in through doors and windows.

This means that a burst pipe in the basement is not considered a flood. It is classified as a covered peril. This is an important distinction for two reasons.

1. Standard Insurance Policies DO NOT typically cover flood claims. They do however provide coverage for any covered peril.  
2. FEMA is the only carrier that provides flood insurance.

Set Scene: There is a flood warning in your county. You have a basement which most likely will end up taking on some water. What should you do? What coverage is available?

Even if you have purchased a flood policy, FEMA does not cover basements. They will cover electrical damage, ie a water heater if it’s located in your basement, but not the basement itself.

Your standard insurance policy does not typically cover floods. This includes any damage to your contents as a result of a flood.

Taking preventative actions such as relocating the contents of your basement to another level is the best thing you can do. I would even go as far as pulling up the carpet and taking it upstairs. It is far easier and cheaper to reinstall your existing carpet than to purchase new due to water damage.

The following are a few things FEMA states on their flood policies.

There is no recourse.
This means even if you disagree with their ruling, it doesn’t matter. What they say goes.

You cannot sue.
Reiterating the first statement there is no recourse. You cannot sue the government.

They reserve the right to change the wording on your policy at any time.
Unlike standard insurance policies that state your limits, coverages and exclusions, FEMA can change any of those items listed on your policy at any time regardless of what it said when you purchased it.

How do you know if you’re in a flood zone? Below is a link to the FEMA flood Map Service Center. Simply type in your address to see where your stand. FEMA FLOOD MAP

Your flood zone rate is based on your location and frequency of flooding is used to determine your premium. This could be high or low depending on frequency and severity of flooding. Even if you’re not in a flood zone you can purchase insurance. The premium will typically be on the lower end since your frequency is not high.  Regardless of whether you’re listed in a flood, if you’re looking at purchasing a policy the most important thing you can do is read it! Read the coverages so you know what you are getting for your money.  There is never a down side to being informed. 

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Workers Compensation Insurance, typically know as work comp, is something you may be familiar with. However, you might not realize that coverage can differ between Corporations, Partnerships, LLCs, LLPs and Sole Proprietorship.

LLC Members, Partners and Sole Proprietors:
Are automatically excluded from the workers compensation coverage. However you may elect to be included by submitting your request in writing.

Officers of a Corporation:
Are automatically including in the workers compensation coverage, but, by written request may elect to be excluded.

So what does all this mean? Let me tell you a story….

The owner of Lighting Installation Services LLC was on some scaffolding installing new ballast when he lost his balance and fell resulting in severe but not critical injuries. The owner did not elect work comp coverage so he turned to his health insurance provider. When he submitted the claims to his provider, coverage was denied based on the fact that it was a work-related injury.  Regardless of whether the accident could have been avoided, coverage would have been granted through work comp or his health care provider had he taken the necessary steps.

Many times the mentality of businesses is to save as much money as possible. While being frugal is a great outlook, sometimes you can’t afford to save that much. Owners regularly ask, “Why would I, as one of the owners, officers, partners or members of the company, want to pay for worker’s compensation insurance on myself when I would never file a claim? Besides, I have health insurance.”

This is where the false sense of security comes into play. Not all health insurance policies will cover job-related accidents. In fact, most policies exclude them unless a special rider is put into place.

No matter what the savings is, I recommend that all owners, officers, partners, and members of a company elect to be included in the workers compensation coverage; unless the following steps have been taken to replace it:

1. Health Insurance Policy with a rider that covers job related injuries. Again, don’t assume your health insurance policy automatically covers your for job related injuries.

2. Disability Income Policy which will provide reimbursement for lost income from a job related injury where you are unable to resume any sort of work duties.

3. Life Insurance Policy that equals the amount of the death benefit offered through the workers compensation policy.

Even if this doesn’t apply to you directly, I guarantee you know someone who owns their own business. I would highly encourage you to pass this information on as a majority of owners have no idea that they are automatically excluded from coverage they purchased.  So the next time someone says their health insurance will cover their work related injury you can respond with FALSE! 

 

                          

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