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Preparing for a claim: before, during and after a disaster

Papers, paystubs and policies are piled high in a drawer somewhere in the pastor's office. Does this sound all too familiar? Daily duties often don’t leave time for filing paperwork. But it’s worth making time for; it could help keep your ministry’s operations on life support after a loss.

Prepare ahead of the loss

Before a fire, tornado or lawsuit turns your world upside down, prepare your ministry with these three steps:

  1. Create copies (electronic or physical) of important documents, such as insurance policies, tax records and accounting statements.

  2. Back up computer hard drives with an external source: external hard drives, secure "cloud-based" servers or an offsite storage service.

  3. Store copies of important documents and external backups in either a fireproof safe or at an offsite location, like a safe deposit box.

When a loss happens

In the event of a loss, here’s what your ministry should do:

  • Call your agent. He or she will need to know your role and contact information, the name of your ministry, the policy number, the date and type of loss, and a description of the loss.

  • Write down what happened as soon as possible. Time is your enemy. As memories fade, it will be harder to nail down specifics. Include important details such as the date, time, location and people affected.

  • List the damages. Include where it happened, the extent of the damage, personal property involved and the potential value of damaged goods.

  • Take action. Help prevent further damage or risk of injury. For example, make sure someone receives medical care if they are injured or cover a hole in the roof to prevent flooding.

How to file a claim

Remember, it's important to take care of immediate needs first:

  • If someone needs medical attention.

  • If the police need to be notified.

  • If you need to make repairs to prevent further damage.

When you're ready to file your claim, have your prep work and policy ready when you call your insurance agent.


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.