Property Insurance Challenges

Portion of an old wooden door, featuring an antique brass handle and a deadbolt lock.

We often hear these days that congregations are having problems with their property insurance. Rates are going up, carriers are leaving states, and certain categories of insureds are being terminated (for instance if your building is in a hurricane or wildfire zone). And it doesn’t take much to get your policy terminated. Even one missed or late payment can cause your insurance to be reviewed for termination by your insurance company.

We can’t make these problems go away but we can offer some suggestions. Please note that because of regional and state differences, we don’t recommend particular insurance companies.

  • If you receive a termination notice, call your agent, whose name should be on the invoice or termination letter. Find out the reason and see if they have any suggestions. It’s good to be equipped with this information and they might have a suggestion that would allow you to continue to be covered through them. If not, sometimes they will recommend another property insurance company.
  • Whether you are being terminated, want to explore options, or are having a problem with your coverage, two email lists managed by the UUA can be helpful. First, someone in your leadership should join the UU Money email list, where property insurance is one of the many financial topics discussed from time to time. Additionally, if your congregation has an administrator and they are not a member of the AUUA, they should join. The AUUA (Association of UU Administrators) is a resource that never ends, and they’ve discussed this issue more than once. Congregational administrators, collectively, might have ideas and resources that we don’t have.
  • If you have any small business owners in your congregation, ask them if they have an insurance broker. If not, look for one with good yelp reviews. A broker can be very helpful. Some highly rated insurance companies aren't national, so we don’t even know about them. A broker can help you get several quotes. They are paid by the insurance company but should represent several, so not be swayed to push one over the other. Make sure you are clear about being a non-profit church…you need things like Boards, Trustees, and errors and omissions policies that a small business would not.
  • Check with other congregations in your area (including non-UU entities) to see who they are using as an insurance carrier and/or broker.
  • If you get a quote from another company, compare the Declarations Page with your current coverage.
  • Check references for any company you are thinking of using. Find out from the references if they have received helpful and timely responses to inquiries and issues.

You may not get an ideal resolution to your problem, but you'll have done your due diligence.