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Behind the scenes

Protect your Christmas pageant before, during and after the curtain call

Christmas pageants are well-orchestrated events designed to spread the good news and bring people together during the holiday season. Churches pore over production details for weeks. Practice and dress rehearsals help synchronize the group for a flawless finish.

Backdrops, decorations, sound equipment, lights — just to name a few — help set the stage. Churches often rent from vendors to temporarily source expensive or additional materials and equipment. If you do this, be aware: It's common for suppliers to require you to add them as "additional insureds" on your ministry's property and casualty policy.

Be selective of your vendors. Listing vendors on your policy could possibly mean that your church may be exposed to more risk, so it's best to investigate them thoroughly. "Additional Insureds" are on your property or commercial general liability policy for a limited time. Vendors do this to protect themselves from financial losses during your events.

Here are a few examples to help illustrate how "additional insureds" may apply to your church events.

Bring back Bethlehem

As part of one church's Christmas pageant, they recreated the streets of Bethlehem. The church parking lot and surrounding streets were blocked off for a live nativity scene complete with camels, sheep and donkeys. Police directed traffic, and Roman guards, the three wise men, and Mary and Joseph greeted guests.

The church contracted with the local sheriff’s department to reserve the roads and off-duty officers. Upon agreement, the police department requested to be listed as an "additional insured."

Bright lights, big production

One church had an extremely successful Christmas pageant last year. This year, the church is making the production bigger: increasing the size of the stage, writing in more singers and actors, and adding more lights, backdrops and seating.

The church could not find a single provider to meet all their needs, so they hired three separate event rental companies. One supplied extra lights, sound equipment and stage extensions with additional support structures. Another provided chairs to extend the amount of seating in the sanctuary. And the third brought themed backdrops and stage props. All three vendors required the church to list them as additional insureds and provide a certificate of insurance with proof of the endorsement.

A friendly neighbor

One church commonly hosts festivals and holiday socials on the property — indoors and outdoors. The church property is situated next to a homeowner and not separated by a fence. Many church members and guests routinely cross the neighbor’s lot to get to church in the morning or to a festival. Others have played a friendly game of football in the church parking lot and thrown the pigskin a little too long, landing in the home’s yard.

The homeowner has requested to be an additional insured before the Christmas pageant just in case someone attending the pageant crosses the land and is injured.

To list an additional insured on your church insurance, contact your P&C representative. He or she may be able to help you and provide you with a Certificate of Insurance.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Readers should use this article as a tool, along with best judgment and any terms or conditions that apply, to determine appropriate policies and procedures for your church's risk management program.