Many churches open their doors to the community for things other than religious services. Often times, those requesting use of the church’s space do so for recreational activities, meetings, wedding receptions, and so on. While this makes sense and is a good practice for the church to undertake, there are inherent risks in lending your facilities to outside groups.
In St. Louis, a popular fund raising event is team trivia. In most instances, an organizing body will utilize space in a church gymnasium or any other large open space and charge x amount per table for a team of eight or so contestants. Anyone interested assembles their team, pays the entry fee, and the team enjoys a night of testing their general knowledge intellect against the other tables. It is not out of the ordinary to find a silent auction attached to the event as well.
Nothing about this seems overly risky or troublesome. However, if the organizing group renting the church doesn’t have the requisite insurance, and an accident were to happen on church grounds during the event, the church insurance owned by the church, in all likelihood, would be forced to respond to any damages. When you mix alcohol into the equation, as is the case in a lot of these trivia nights, the chances of an accident or damaged property can increase greatly.
One type of insurance that can help in this arena is special event insurance. Many exposures can be covered in a special event insurance policy including, liquor liability, general premises liability, liability for rented or loaned property, damage to owned property, automobile liability, and much more. Further, one can purchase one day event insurance which would take care of an event such as a trivia fundraising night.
If the church itself is sponsoring the event, then the church would do well to acquire a special event insurance policy for the duration of the event because the exposures related to the event are likely not covered under their church insurance policies.
If the church is leasing the space to an outside group which is sponsoring the event, then the outside group should acquire a special event insurance policy and the church should require a certificate of insurance from the group as proof the group has insurance for the event in question.
Every event has the potential to be different so if you are considering opening your doors to the community for the use of special events and you have questions about whether your church insurance policy adequately protects your ministry, we encourage you to call us at 636.391.0700 or email email@example.com and we can address your specific situation and help you or any groups you may be speaking with obtain the necessary protection in order to execute a fun, safe and successful event.