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April Ask The Expert

Updated: Jul 25, 2022

Is insurance coverage different for employees and volunteers?

Many organizations are composed of both employees and volunteers. Your church may be no different. This can often lead to confusion as to who’s covered by your church’s insurance policy and who isn’t. Breaking down the differences related to insurance for employees versus volunteers can be helpful.

Before we begin, it’s important to note that policy language and what’s covered can change from state to state. Always make sure to read your policy or speak to your agent to confirm that your coverages are appropriate for your ministry’s operations.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation insurance covers costs associated with employees being injured while on the job. Some states cover volunteers under workers’ compensation, but many states don’t allow workers’ compensation to extend to volunteers.

However, just because your state doesn’t cover volunteers under workers’ compensation, it doesn’t mean that your church has no options. Waivers, Hold Harmless Agreements, and general liability insurance may help offer protection to your church in the event a volunteer is injured.

General Liability

General liability insurance offers protection when an accident occurs due to unforeseen events. This can include injuries that occur to non-employees on your property or damage to someone else’s property caused by an employee or volunteer.

If your volunteers are unable to be covered by a workers’ compensation policy, a general liability policy may be the best option to help ensure that your volunteers are protected.

Do I need other coverages for volunteers?

Depending on what jobs your volunteers will be performing, it’s a good idea to include them on your other insurance policies where possible just to be safe. If you have volunteers handling your social media accounts, you’ll want to include them on any cyber liability policies that you have. If volunteers will be driving church vehicles, be sure they’re also covered under your commercial auto policy. To help ensure that your ministry is well-protected, it’s important to understand how your church's policy handles volunteers. Be sure to contact your agent and/or insurance company with any questions and to receive guidance on your policy.

When you are covered by UMIP, we will be there when you need us. Churches have unique needs. As a part of the denomination, we understand the unique needs of United Methodist churches and their operations, which is reflected in our coverage options. Your ministry deserves outstanding insurance and UMIP works for you each day to help protect your church’s people, property, and finances.

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This content has been prepared by United Methodist Insurance Company (UMI) for informational purposes only. No article or document may accurately contemplate all possible scenarios or church resources. As such, this information is meant to foster discussion by the individual church and its members to develop a plan tailored to its own circumstances. UMI is providing this information with no warranties or guarantees of any kind and it should not be viewed as legal, financial, or other professional advice. All liability is expressly disclaimed. Any claim examples described herein are general in nature, may or may not be based on actual claims, and are for informational purposes only. Any coverage available for a claim is determined from the facts and circumstances of the claim as well as the terms and conditions of any applicable policy, including any exclusions or deductibles. In the event of a conflict with the content herein, the terms and conditions of any issued policy will control. Individual coverage may vary and may not be available in all states.

The commercial insurance coverages for United Methodist Insurance are sold and serviced directly or indirectly by Sovereign Insurance Agency (CA Lic. No. 0B01380) ("Sovereign") and underwritten by various available insurance markets. Sovereign pays United Methodist Insurance a royalty for the use of its intellectual property.


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