Many churches are struggling financially because they can't find affordable health insurance. Pastors increasingly find themselves in a cycle of financial crisis simply because of high insurance premiums and rising deductibles and co-pays.
But rising costs are only half of the story. While prices are going up, insurance companies are covering less. Years ago dental and vision coverage were standard parts of most every health policy. Now, it's rare that a "standard" policy provides this coverage.
So what can churches do to provide adequate and affordable health insurance for their pastors?
1. Prioritize - determine which types of insurance are most important.
2. Investigate Thoroughly - Finding clergy insurance is not an easy process. It
takes a lot of hard work. You need to compare types of coverage as well as
3. Search Diligently - Insurance agents are salespeople. They may be good
people, but they still earn a living by selling you insurance coverage. So
no salesperson will try to sell you an insurance policy they don't
personally offer. You have to learn all you can about insurance in general
and then compare policies and costs. To do this you will have to meet with
several salespeople and make a lot of phone calls. It's hard work. But your
efforts will be worth it when you find adequate and affordable clergy
How, though, do you determine which insurance is most important?
Clergy Insurance Priorities
It's difficult to determine what's most important in the sea of available clergy insurance policies:
1. Comprehensive Health Coverage - Health insurance is the most important
type of clergy insurance. Nothing else comes close. A simple visit to the
doctor and a resulting prescription can easily cost $150 to $200.
2. Liability. This coverage provides legal and financial assistance against a
law suit. It usually doesn't cost much and will help your pastor sleep
better at night. People sue over anything and everything. It may be a slip
and fall in the church bathroom, it may result from a person's rejection
of church discipline, or a person may not like the counsel your offered by
your pastor. Whether or not the accusations have merit, the plaintiff will
still get his or her day in court. So your church and/or your pastor will
need a lawyer. A good liability insurance policy will provide for
everything from basic counsel up to the payout of a settlement. These
clergy insurance policies are not expensive and are well worth the money.
3. Disability. People about 55 and younger are more likely to be disabled
than they are to die. What will you do if your pastor is partially or
totally disabled for six months? Will you continue to pay his salary? What
if he is permanently disabled? Will you let him stay in the parsonage and
continue his salary until retirement? If not, disability coverage is
essential. No one likes to think about this possibility. But what if your
pastor is involved in an automobile accident and can't work for three
months, six months, or even a year? What if he is permanently disabled?
Most churches would do their best to care for their ailing pastor for as
long as they could. But if the disability is permanent, you will need a
new pastor while you care for your current pastor. How can you afford
both? Disability coverage is essential pastor insurance.
4. Life Insurance. What will your pastor's spouse do if your pastor dies?
Will he or she be able to get adequate employment? Do they have children?
Life insurance is the best way to provide for the pastor's spouse when the
pastor dies. How much pastor life insurance is enough? Each situation is
different. However,consider things like the age of your pastor's children,
the type of employment your pastor's spouse can obtain, and any special
health or living situations. Life insurance can also be purchased by the
church to cover expenses that are incurred by the church after the death
of its pastor. Unexpected costs such as pulpit supply and a new pastor
search can be covered by this type of policy. Ask your insurance agent for
5. Supplemental - Supplemental clergy insurance is what you might think of
as "gap" insurance. Use this type of policy to fill the coverage gaps in
other types of clergy insurance. For instance, if your health insurance
doesn't provide dental coverage, you might look for a supplemental dental
policy. Specialized policies are also available. If your pastor has a
family history of cancer or heart disease, you might consider purchasing a
cancer or major illness policy. Nursing home costs leave a wake of
financial destruction in many homes so you might also look at long term
care coverage. This type of coverage is available through many insurance