part 3 in a 4-part series on church plant insurance issues:
You’re a mobile church and you tote equipment to and from your rented worship facility every week in a trailer. Even if you already have a church plant insurance policy, they don’t include insuring church plant trailers in the standard policy.
Here are a couple of issues that you’ll need to deal with in insuring church plant trailers:
Business Auto Policy
If the trailer has a VIN and a license plate (which it will), you’re actually going to need another insurance policy alongside your General Liability policy.
A Business Auto Policy is almost certainly required by your state to cover the trailer, and it will look and feel very similar to your personal auto insurance. Here’s the catch: the standard policy only covers damage that your trailer does to some else’s property. Damage done to the trailer might be covered under your General Liability policy, or it might not be covered at all. I guess you’d better ask!
The good news is that this policy isn’t usually very expensive. A bigger issue is the contents of the trailer:
Inland Marine Coverage
While the trailer itself may have cost you $5,000-$10,000, you probably have $15,000-$40,000 worth of equipment that you’re towing around. Here’s the other catch: your standard liability policy covers theft & damage to your equipment at your worship facility. While it’s in your trailer in transit, or even when sitting in the parked trailer during the week, your church insurance probably does not cover the contents.
Enter the Inland Marine rider to your General Liability policy (must be a leftover name & practice from our country’s clipper ship naval era). It’s the policy “power up” that will cover trailer contents in transit.
Unfortunately, transit is inherently more dangerous, so this can be an expensive rider. But imagine having to replace all that equipment with no insurance. Read on:
Don’t Forget to Add the Trailer and Contents!
As a church planter, you’re going to get the trailer and all the ministry equipment during the crazy-busy season right before launch. It’s going to be so easy not to get to updating your insurance (as described above) until later. You cannot forget to do this or put it off. Just ask my planter from several years ago:
I had already gotten a Business Auto policy quote from his agent, but he never got around to getting the trailer’s make, model & VIN turned in, so the policy was never bound. And then within a few months of launch, the trailer was stolen in the middle of the week. The insurance company had to tell him, “Sorry, that loss is not covered.” Very fortunately for him, the police recovered the trailer soon afterwards. That could have been devastating to the new church.
Where You Park it Matters
The rates you pay for both the Business Auto and Inland Marine insurance may be affected by where you park the trailer. The best thing to do is park it at a self storage facility behind a locked fence with video surveillance.
Unfortunately, some thieves have figured out that church trailers equal big bucks, so parking it in front of your house makes it pretty vulnerable, especially if it’s branded with your church name all over it. A little better, maybe, is parking it on church property of one of your network churches, but I don’t know if that will earn you a discount.
Don’t let these secret tricks for insuring church plant trailers catch you unprepared!