I Have a Confession to Make

// December 8, 2016
Reading Time: 3 minutes


Religious leaders throughout the country hear this phrase on a daily basis. Every day priests, pastors, rabbis, ministers and other clergy are trusted to provide a broad range of counseling services for their congregations and communities, often times, when they’re at their most vulnerable. Marital counseling, parent/child relationship building, bereavement counseling, insights on faith-based virtues, and guidance through life transitions are common services provided.

Professional religious counseling programs draw on modern methods of therapy and behaviorism, while also integrating spiritual values and fundamental theological ideals. While congregation members put their faith and trust into their clergy, clergypersons are legally held to the same standard of care as other professional counselors. Common lawsuits against clergy include the following allegations:

  • Failure to protect the counselee (counselee attempts suicide or attempts to harm another person)
  • Failure to report child abuse when required to do so by law
  • Allegations of sexual misconduct between the clergyperson and counselee
  • Quality of counseling services is unsatisfactory or has inflicted mental distress
  • Breach of confidence/failing to keep private counseling information confidential

The defense costs alone for these types of allegations can financially devastate a house of worship, forcing them to close their doors permanently, regardless of whether or not any merit to the allegations exist. In addition, with over 4,000 start-up places of worship opening each year , there are many clergy entering the field for the first time without having any prior counseling experience. This can compound the liability exposure for clergy and their houses of worship.

Houses of worship can help to protect themselves by having established guidelines on sexual misconduct and controls in place for maintaining counselee confidentiality, making sure their clergy members are qualified and obtaining pastoral professional insurance.

USLI provides a broad and comprehensive insurance solution for houses of worship of all faiths and denominations. Our pastoral professional coverage is available in conjunction with general liability and provides errors and omissions coverage for the counseling services provided. We provide limits up to $1,000,000 for a competitive premium charge of $250.

Additional coverages and benefits for our Nonprofit Package Houses of Worship product include:

  • Abuse and molestation limit options available up to $1,000,000
  • Automatic coverage for outreach activities, fundraisers, missions, retreats, and other special events
  • Optional certain criminal or civil proceeding defense cost reimbursement coverage available
  • Automatic additional insured status for church members
  • Optional hired and non-owned auto coverage
  • Limit options for directors and officers and employment practices liability, including third party coverage, available up to $5,000,000

Please contact your Nonprofit Package underwriter today for more information on our Houses of Worship product!


As always, thank you for your support and business!

Written by Michael Plakis
December 8, 2016

Contact Lisa Brooks
Assistant Vice President, Houses of Worship Product Leader | 888-523-5545 Ext. 2139