Top Property Losses for Houses of Worship and How to Prevent Them

// April 28, 2016
Reading Time: 4 minutes


Houses of worship provide many services to their communities, ranging from worship services and education to outreach, missions and other charitable activities. However, many houses of worship operate on small budgets, and small losses often have a large impact if proper insurance coverage is not in place. For this reason, it’s very important to have a sound understanding of the various exposures houses of worship are faced with each day.

Comprehensive insurance coverages and proper risk management techniques can help prevent devastating losses from occurring. Below is a list of common property exposures for houses of worship. Additionally, the insurance coverages that apply to these exposures are included as well as risk management techniques that can mitigate the loss, or possibly even prevent the loss altogether. For a list of the top liability losses for houses of worship, please read our December 2015 newsletter article >>


When lightning strikes, the damage inflicted on buildings and contents can be severe. Lightning can travel through pipes, electric lines and phone lines, causing fires, power surge damage and shock wave damage. Houses of worship with a steeple are at an even greater risk of being impacted by lightning damage. The best way to prevent lightning strikes is to install a UL approved lightning protection system.

USLI covers lightning under both Basic and Special causes of loss.

Storm Damage

The weather can be unpredictable, so good building maintenance is imperative in helping to minimize damage to property. Making sure that any necessary roof repairs are completed and keeping trees trimmed to prevent them from falling on your property help protect a house of worship from property damage. Also, securing windows and doors in the event of high winds and using sandbags for potential flooding can help with reducing the severity of any property damage.

USLI offers up to $3,000,000 in property limits using replacement cost and Special Form for most houses of worship, and we can provide wind and hail coverage in most territories as well.


While scrap metal prices have decreased over the years, theft of copper from air conditioning units is still a reality for many houses of worship. These losses can be devastating for a house of worship because many times the entire air conditioning needs to be replaced due to the damage caused to the unit when the copper is removed. These burglaries can cause tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. Placing a cage around the air conditioning unit will hinder access to the unit and help deter thieves. Other items targeted by burglars are musical equipment and electronics. These items can be better protected by installing a central station burglar alarm, which will alert authorities in the event the alarm signal is triggered.

USLI offers theft coverage in conjunction with the Special Form for most houses of worship without having a central station burglar alarm.

Pipe Bursts

The main cause of pipes bursting is freezing conditions, but it can also be due to age or damage to the pipes. The aftermath can be severe, however, so ensuring pipes are well-insulated and hiring a plumber to inspect and repair any areas of wear or tear can help prevent major problems down the road.

Water damage is included in USLI’s property coverage for Special Form.


Candlelight can be an integral part of worship and prayer activities. Unfortunately, the open flame of a small candle can lead to a fire that can get out of control quickly. Flameless candles can provide the ambience of soft candle light without the risk of using an open flame. Fires can also be caused by faulty and/or outdated wiring or even by arson. While arson can be unpredictable and hard to prevent, proper security fencing around a house of worship can help deter arsonists, as the building is not as easily accessible. Also, hiring an electrician to make sure wiring is up to date can help prevent electrical fires. Old knob and tube wiring should be removed and replaced with newer wiring such as copper, and all electrical should be on circuit breakers. 

Fire damage is included in both Basic and Special causes of loss.

USLI can provide comprehensive coverages to effectively meet the needs of houses of worship of all faiths and denominations.

Please contact your Non Profit Package underwriter for more information or a quote, or get a web quote today >>

Download marketing materials for the Houses of Worship product >>

As always, thank you for your support and business.

Julia PitcherellaContact Lisa Brooks
Assistant Vice President, Underwriter, Houses of Worship Product Leader | Non Profit Package | 888-523-5545 Ext. 2139

Julia PitcherellaWritten by Michael Plakis
March 3, 2016