Church Insurance Claims
Understanding Property Damage Claims to Churches
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.
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.
It has 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.
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 75% 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.
Corbitt Public Adjusting, LLC will work with you to answer any questions you may have regarding the situation surrounding your loss. As large loss experts, 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.