Insurance has been around for centuries and while some consider it a ‘necessary evil,’ others wonder whether they need certain coverage or whether they can skimp and try to save some money in the short term, while increasing their long term risk. For many years, religious schools, as with any organization, has needed to ensure that they are protected against legal liability and today there are numerous insurance companies that cater specifically to church insurance and religious schools.
When people think about churches and religious schools, they don’t often consider that they also need liability insurance coverage, as most private organizations do. The connotation that churches are above this requirement may lay within the ideology of doing good deeds or that its members, students, or congregations would protect the organization, but the real world, the legal world is a much different place than the one in which church members step into on Sunday.
Religious schools, for example, are fraught with the same legal challenges and liabilities as any other type of school and there are a number of different reasons why specialty coverage would be necessary for these organizations.
Any time that young individuals, students for example, are brought together for the purpose of education, adults with the right skills and desire to help them will come together to give them the best opportunity for a bright future and the best chances for success. And while the intention is to give the best to these students, it is absolutely essential to make sure that what you’ve built, or are building at the moment, will be able to sustain itself in the event of a legal action against it.
In life, mistakes are a part of daily living, as the Bible has taught us through the years. What is important, and what we tend to teach our children, is that we need to learn from our mistakes in order for them to be worth having been made. However, in the real world, mistakes can be quite costly and devastating. While you may hire the best employees and teachers that you can find, you can’t control everything that they do, say, think, or feel. You also can’t control the way that students will always react to the things that are said or done to them.
Slander, wrongful termination, and sexual misconduct are just three of the possible legal liabilities that a private organization may find itself facing within the school environment. An employee may have had the best intentions but makes a bad choice and the only recourse that the school has is to terminate the employee. In turn, that employee may believe that the motivation behind his or her firing wasn’t performance based but rather a personal lifestyle choice or political viewpoint. In that case, he or she may take legal action against the school to seek compensation for the termination.
A student may interpret what a teacher says in class as being slanderous. That student may decide to repeat what was said to his or her parents, who in turn file a lawsuit against the school for slander. Misunderstandings have begun with far less and have cost far more in the grand scheme or instruction within schools, religious or otherwise.
And, of course, there is the potential for allegations of sexual misconduct within the school system. There are many different types of sexual misconduct that could be brought in action against the school. The most commonly thought of, at least by adults when thinking of this situation, is one in which a teacher made advances or committed lewd sexual acts with a student, whether consenting or against their will. However, there are many other reasons why legal action might be taken against a religious school when it comes to sexual misconduct.
Two students could be engaged in sexual misconduct, with or without the knowledge of any teachers or school officials, but if the parents discover this behavior and that is was taking place on school grounds, they may decide that the school is responsible, in their opinion, for not having intervened.
These are just a few examples of why a religious school would need specialized insurance coverage. These examples stray beyond the general scope of most insurance plans and being that they are specialized, it generally requires a specialized insurance provider to offer it.
For religious schools or other religious organizations, insurance is an important factor, especially in today’s environment. It’s important that the insurance provider with whom you carry insurance not only understands all of the specialized coverage that they offer, but also the unique expectations and challenges that the religious schools face on a regular basis.
What is the Cost of Specialized Coverage for Religious Schools?
As with most insurance plans, the cost of specialized coverage for religious schools will depend on a number of factors. First and foremost, it will depend on the number of students who are enrolled in the school, both part and full time. Second, the number of employees will factor in the cost as well. The more students and the more employees, from administrative to teacher, teaching assistants, and substitute teachers, will matter in the final analysis. Some insurance providers will also consider certain employment screening practices to be more efficient than others and therefore may offer different rates for their specialized insurance as a result.
When trying to determine what type of specialized insurance you’ll need for your religious school, you should discuss your options with a company that has worked with religious groups for years. It is these companies that understand the unique challenges that religious organizations face, especially in today’s modern age.
While it may be tempting to want to save a little money and avoid these specialized coverages in the short term, it’s important to remember that anything that you and others have invested in should be protected at all times. Specialized coverage isn’t about what might happen on some outside chance, but protecting against the potential for unique circumstances presenting themselves. Religious schools deserve to be protected with specialized insurance.