"Claims" spelled in dice with letters on them

Top Four House of Worship Claims and How to Help Avoid Them

By Emily Arndt on April 23, 2024

The best defense is a strong offense. Can you name the top insurance claims for houses of worship? We're breaking down what are generally the four most common insurance claims.

Would the top insurance claims that houses of worship file surprise you? Do you think you could guess them? Are you aware of the most likely risks your organization faces? We see the industry stats (and the claims) regularly—and we’re here to offer support. By better understanding your risks, you can also better protect your religious organization—and that’s a great thing. Read on for some of the (possibly surprising) details.

While they may change from year to year, the following categories represent the top four claim causes of loss affecting houses of worship:

  1. Water-related property claims, such as a burst pipe, toilet overflow or pipe freeze
  2. Liability slips or falls on your premises
  3. Autos striking stationary objects
  4. Wind/hail losses to your buildings
  1. Here’s how to help avoid property water claims:

Did you know a one-eighth inch pipe crack can cause 250 gallons of water to leak in one day? From a leaking roof to a drain blockage to a pipe freeze, property water claims can cause serious damage to your house of worship. Especially during winter months when your house of worship may not have daily occupancy, it’s critical that you take steps to avoid property water damage when this is such a common claim type.

Here are some actions you can take to help prepare and detect if you have a leak:

  • Keep your roof(s) in good condition.
  • Clean gutters.
  • Insulate pipes.
  • Watch your water bill for high usage.
  • Use no water for two hours, read your water meter before and after this time period. If the reading isn’t the same, you likely have a leak.
  • To check if your toilet has a leak, place a drop of food coloring in the tank. If colored water goes into the toilet bowl in 15 minutes or less without flushing, you probably have a leak.
  • Consider installing a water leak detection system.
  • Perform required maintenance on your emergency generator.

Planning ahead to prep for the next winter season? Check out this Glatfelter blog about winter weather property prep:




  1. How to help avoid slips or falls on your organization’s property:

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 684,000 falls happen every year, making it the second leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide. Liability claims for falls or slips on your organization’s property could cost you thousands. For example, the typical settlement in Pennsylvania ranges from $15,000 to $45,000.

Here are some tips to help avoid slips and falls on your house of worship property:

  • Clean up spills immediately.
  • Display warning signs clearly for wet floor areas.
  • Remove tripping hazards in walkways, doors and stairs.
  • Install handrails.
  • Ensure there’s adequate lighting in walking areas.
  • Avoid loose, unanchored mats and rugs.
  • Flatten sloped or even walking surfaces.
  • Install ramps or planks with slip-resistant surfaces.
  • Repair damaged steps and floors.
  • Perform self-inspections to identify and correct slip, trip and fall hazards. Utilize this Self Inspection Form for Building and Grounds from Glatfelter.
  1. Around 20% of motor vehicle accident deaths result from a vehicle hitting a fixed object along the road. The top typical stationary objects that are hit include: trees, utility poles, traffic barriers, embankments, ditches and fences. Here’s some tips to avoid being a statistic and to help keep your house of worship staff safe from these vehicle accidents:

  • Avoid backing up. Try to position yourself so you can pull straight out from a parking spot, for example.
  • Don’t park within a few feet of a fixed object. Doing so increases the chance the fixed object will be hit the next time the vehicle is used.
  • Perform a walk-around of the vehicle prior to operation to check for stationary objects.
  • Pay attention while driving a vehicle. This is one of the most important things your vehicle drivers can do to avoid hitting stationary objects. Avoid distracted driving or complacency, even while driving at low speeds.
  • Use a spotter any time you are driving near fixed objects.
  • If you can, make fixed objects more visible by using orange flags or other bright markers to bring attention to them.
  • Place protective barriers around fixed objects that are critical to operations, such as concrete barriers to protect an AC unit.
  1. Winds from hurricanes and other tropical storms or hail can cause devastating impacts to your house of worship. It’s a good idea to make sure your roof is covered for wind and hail damage in case forces of nature like these cause a roof leak or other types of damage. Talk to your agent about options for your house of worship. Below are some examples of things you can do to prepare your house of worship for these natural disasters:

  • Get your roof inspected annually and perform regular maintenance, preferably before the storm season and after severe weather.
  • Analyze for threats on your property. Check annually; you may need new windows or better seals on doors, which you can identify during these checks.
  • Periodically review your insurance policy with your agent to help ensure your needs are up-to-date.
  • Properly secure any outdoor equipment, signs or shrubbery near your building and make sure there are no loose objects on your roof.
  • Invest in durable roofing materials that are securely fastened and sealed properly.
  • Ensure water runoff moves away from your building and doesn’t accumulate at the foundation.

Now that you know the top claim types for religious organizations, you can take steps to help prevent them. Organizations that have a proactive approach to risk management tend to build the understanding required to measure and manage the risks of tomorrow and how they could impact business.


What other steps have you taken to protect your house of worship from these threats? Let us know in the comments below!

Emily Arndt

Em, a proud cat mom to Margot and Teddy, enjoys learning guitar, the beach, writing, and working on her sarcasm.


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