Ask The Expert: Are personal items covered in the parsonage?

A parsonage serves both professional and personal purposes. It is important to understand how insurance comes into play to offer potential protection.

Ask The Expert: Are personal items covered in the parsonage?

Church parsonages provide necessary housing for church employees and pastors as they serve their congregation.  However, since a parsonage serves both professional and personal purposes, it is important to understand how insurance comes into play to offer potential protection.

All United Methodist churches are required to maintain appropriate coverage for all property as outlined in the Book of Discipline. It is important to remember, however, that only certain personal items may be covered under a standard commercial church property policy. With regards to insurance for parsonages, the definition of personal property needs to be reviewed.

Items that are business personal property are generally covered under a commercial policy. For example, if damage occurs to desks, computers, televisions, or phones used for business purposes in the parsonage, it would likely fall under the business personal property limit. Additionally, if damage occurs to the personal property of others while in the care, custody and control of the insured (church employee), those items would typically be covered.

Items that are considered to be true personal property of either a church employee/resident of the parsonage or visitors to the parsonage are not generally covered under a commercial policy. Examples may include personal coats, car keys, phones, etc. These items may be covered under a homeowner’s or renter’s policy. For this reason, it is extremely important that a church employee or pastor also considers homeowner’s or renter’s insurance to help protect their personal property and provide coverage for personal liability that may arise from use of the parsonage.

Ask the Expert Featured Question: What about pets in the parsonage?

Recently, a question was submitted to Ask the Expert on whether or not pets that live in the parsonage with a church employee or pastor are covered by an insurance policy.  In this case, pets are generally covered under regular liability coverage for the parsonage as provided through the church insurance policy and no additional coverages are required to be added.  As an example, if a dog were to bite someone in the parsonage, it would typically be handled in the same manner as any other liability claim.  However, if a pet does have a history of issues, it is possible that there may be exclusions to liability coverage.  In this case, it is important that the insured speak with their insurance agent. Speaking with your agent on pet coverage concerns like this or others is a best practice for the insured.

One important item to consider with regards to pets in parsonages is that there may be requirements, completely unrelated to insurance, set forth by annual conferences or individual churches that could apply.  Check with your church and conference leadership for further information.

Congratulations to Darlene from North East, MD for this month's Ask the Expert Question! Darlene, check your mailbox for a surprise from UMIP!

Questions about insurance for your parsonage?

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