LAKELAND – It’s not always money well spent that counts in local church ministry.
Sometimes it’s money not spent at all.
That’s why the Florida Conference Ministry Protection staff and committee members are pleased to mark 2014 as the fifth consecutive year that property and casualty insurance premiums will remain the same, with no increases to congregations in the conference.
“That is a huge deal,” said LaNita Battles, claims/risk manager for Ministry Protection. “That is a deal that affects everybody.”
In addition, churches that paid 100 percent of their 2013 apportionments, health and benefits expenses and insurance costs will receive a special 10 percent dividend, double the amount offered last year. Those churches should receive dividend checks by mid-March.
“We will pay approximately $700,000 in dividends to the local churches this year,” Battles said.
|LaNita Battles was promoted to claims/risk manager for the Department for Ministry Protection in December 2013. Prior to her promotion, she served as the conference claims manager for eight years.|
Congregations that pay their 2014 property and casualty insurance premiums by the end of February will receive an additional 2 percent discount. Those insurance bills are posted to church dashboards. Click here for instructions.
Money saved on mundane but necessary expenses like insurance translates into more dollars for local church ministry. It’s difficult to tally the total amount saved through Ministry Protection’s efforts, but Battles has some additional figures to report:
“We assisted churches with their $5,000 individual church deductibles in 2013,” she said. “Total assistance provided for deductibles was approximately $200,000.”
The three-member Ministry Protection staff and 10-member volunteer Ministry Protection Committee also help churches save money by providing appraisals and loss control/safety surveys. The program operates on a rotational basis, and churches can request the service by filling out an application on the Ministry Protection website.
Last year, the department provided 64 appraisals and 53 loss control/safety surveys, Battles said, adding that she hopes that number will increase this year.
Programs like that help the conference keep insurance costs down, Battles said.
“I think it is a combination of the hard work of the Ministry Protection Committee and the relationship we have with our insurance brokers and underwriters on our account,” she said.
“They recognize that we are partners with them on safety and loss control.”
The department also participates in district training events, to equip clergy and church leadership with essential risk management/ministry protection strategies.
“We focus on the right things,” Battles said. “We want to make sure our congregations and buildings are safe. A natural offshoot of that is loss control.”
Battles said the committee evaluates the health of the Ministry Protection program each year to determine whether the conference can offer incentives like the 10 percent dividend.
For the second year, Ministry Protection will offer international medical/accident coverage and international crisis management resources for Florida Conference mission teams and individual conference members participating in global missions, Battles said.
The program was inaugurated last year, and nearly 1,130 people from the conference took advantage of the coverage. At least one person suffered a serious injury and the new insurance coordinated medical treatment among the local doctors, the injured person’s family doctor and a specialist that averted a potentially tragic situation. All the consultations and treatments were covered by the new insurance, Battles said.
Coverage available through the new program is less expensive and more comprehensive than the insurance previously available from other sources, she added. She estimated that the new plan saved local churches that had been providing insurance for mission teams about $10,000 last year.
Battles credited committee members with being dedicated and knowledgeable about insurance needs.
“They are always reviewing the program to make sure we are providing the very best coverage at the very best price.”