Could using church space for alternative purposes affect my coverage?
Your church may decide to rent out its space for outside groups like youth groups, substance abuse recovery groups, hobby clubs, or other local organizations. Does this present your church with a risk of further liability, or will the renting organization be responsible in the event of an accident? You may be surprised at the answer.
In most instances, your church is still liable if someone is injured or if damages occur during one of these outside events. It’s important to make arrangements beforehand to make sure renters understand the liability for their organization and help reduce or eliminate the risks your church may face.
Create a facility use agreement
Creating a contract between your church and the organization utilizing the space can help make sure your church isn’t liable. Make sure your agreement requires the group to obtain liability insurance equal to or greater than your church’s policy limits. The agreement must also name your church as an additional insured, and indemnifies your church for any liability that arises from the group’s activity. Be sure to have them provide you with a certificate of insurance showing your church is an additional insured on their policy.
Fix potential hazards
In addition to your facility use agreement, you should be repairing known hazards and issues present on your property. If someone is injured by falling down stairs that desperately needed repairs, or someone damages their car due to potholes in your parking lot, chances are your church will be responsible. Be sure to make needed repairs to your property, ensure that emergency lights, exits, and doors all work correctly, and other precautions have been followed to help reduce the risk of injury or damage.
Provide guidelines for guests
Before the group begins to gather, meet with them to provide guidelines for using your facilities. Walk around your buildings and show them which areas are restricted during their gatherings, educate them on where exits, fire extinguishers, and other emergency materials may be, and provide them with the rules for using your facilities.
Accidents can happen to anyone, and just because you allow other organizations to use your facilities doesn’t mean your church has to take on unnecessary risk. Take the proper precautions to help protect your church.
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.
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