Church Insurance Claims
Has your church been devastated by a tornado? Roof beaten up by a hailstorm? Suffered a catastrophic fire? With a church seemingly on every corner here in the United States, our public adjusters are asked to get involved in a lot property insurance claims of this type.
Depending on how much damage has been done to the property, the church may be unable to maintain their operations at their present location. Thankfully, most carriers that insure churches provide “Extra Expense” coverage within their policies, providing the financial resources to move the operations to another locale and reimburse the church for any additional expenses incurred as a result of a covered peril. Accessing this benefit will allow the church to continue to meet the needs of its members and hold their normal services. This endorsement will even pay the costs associated with retrofitting another building for a needed audio-visual system similar to what was in the building that was damaged.
This particular benefit is a “God-send” to those churches who don’t have the money or cash flow to meet such unanticipated expenses. First and foremost, get a copy of your policy to see if you have the Extra Expense endorsement. If so, that’s a good place to start utilizing your benefits. It might be helpful to let us read your entire policy (at no cost) and then educate you as to how to access all of your benefits. Church policies are full of many additional benefits that are not seen in any other type of policy.
One of the church’s other responsibilities after a loss is to mitigate any additional damage. This may mean putting tarps on the roof or putting plywood up over stained glass windows. As spelled out in the policy, this is your duty; no one else’s. Your carrier does not owe you for additional damage to your building(s) if you were negligent in taking care of them. Keep any receipts or invoices you paid to any vendor/contractor that assists you in mitigation, as your insurance company will reimburse you for any expenses associated with temporary repairs.
We would also encourage the church to set up a “Fire,” “Tornado,” or “Hail” account in their accounting software in order to easily earmark those expenses directly attributable to the loss; set up a separate manila folder for your bookkeeper to file invoices and receipts related to the loss. Later on, it will be easier to see any expenses that are reimbursable from the carrier.
Finally, it’s been our experience that the size and complexity of a church’s commercial property claim makes it extremely difficult for the board to know, with any certainty, whether they are handling it in such a way as to maximize their benefits. Most church boards are filled by smart, well-intentioned men and women from all walks of life, but rarely are any of them an expert in a large loss claim, and this is no time for an education on the subject. The tuition can be very expensive.
When you are dealing with losses in the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, the board may want to consider having someone who’s not associated with the carrier read the policy and review any estimates given to them. As with other property loss, we always encourage the property owner to give the carrier’s adjuster the benefit of the doubt and allow him or her to produce their estimate. No use picking a fight if it’s really not necessary since about 30% of the time the estimate is a good one. You won’t need to hire a claims consultant like us if it’s a good estimate, and there is certainly no sense in hiring any public adjuster and paying him/her a percentage of what you are going to be offered anyhow.
Once the estimate or “offer of settlement” is put forth, it would be wise for the board, in the course of fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities, to allow an independent claims expert (like us) to examine it and assess its legitimacy and thoroughness. We could then report to the board our findings at no charge. Historically, we have found that almost 70% of the time the estimate is significantly less than what it should be, and almost 100% of the time the members of the board are unaware of the deficiency.
Still, we always tell our clients to be fair and patient with their insurance carrier. Wait for the insurer to put their cards on the table by giving you their estimate and then, and only then, will someone like us be able to fairly evaluate the fullness of their offer. Remember, the insurance company’s adjuster assigned to your claim has a conflict of interest if he’s being asked to represent his employer’s interest and your church’s interest at the same time. This is why it’s important to get a “second opinion” from someone who consistently works on the policyholders side of the claim.
Our professional adjusters will work with you to answer any questions you may have regarding the situation surrounding your loss. As expert consultants, our staff is completely qualified and credentialed to assist you in navigating the complex world of a large property insurance claim while helping you to maximize your recovery in the most timely manner possible.
Church Public Adjusting Services
- Comprehensive analysis of your insurance policy, including identifying the type and extent of coverage provided
- Damage Inventory and Estimate: We will perform a detailed inventory of all church assets damaged
- Replacement Analysis: We will assess the cost of replacing any items lost or damaged in your church
- Rebuilding Estimate: We will take care of estimating the cost of rebuilding your church, as necessary
Claim Submission: We will handle the burdensome task of completing all forms