What Is Chaplain Malpractice Insurance?

Chaplain malpractice insurance is liability insurance that provides coverage for chaplains, priests, and other clergy members. Chaplain malpractice insurance, also called priest malpractice insurance, more generally covers claims made against a professional for counseling services that a clergy member may provide.

Key Takeaways

  • Chaplain malpractice insurance is a type of insurance policy offered to chaplains, priests, and other clergy members.
  • The insurance serves to protect clergy members facing claims that have emerged as a result of their actions as priests or chaplains.
  • The coverage is particularly relevant for clergy members who provide counseling services, amid a rise in mental anguish lawsuits.

Understanding Chaplain Malpractice Insurance

Chaplain malpractice insurance protects against claims of malpractice caused during counseling activities. While not considered to be in the same professional field as a therapist or psychologist, chaplains and other members of the clergy are often called upon to provide counseling services to members of their organizations. Counseling services may relate to marriage and family matters, but may also include other types of privileged exchanges of information between the clergy and other individuals and groups. For example, a chaplain may have provided counseling to a married couple that was trying to avoid divorce. If the couple ultimately goes through with the divorce, they may sue the chaplain for not providing the proper guidance that could have helped them avoid the legal expenses and mental anguish.

Special Considerations

Because the threat of malpractice lawsuits from counseling services may be relatively limited in frequency, not all clergy members may be aware that they are exposed to the same risk of malpractice lawsuits that other non-clergy professionals are. The risks are greater for clergies who provide counseling services outside of a religious facility, and who may visit patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical centers. An example of this type of risk is a patient complaining to a chaplain about mistreatment in a nursing home, and the family of the individual suing the chaplain for not notifying a government employee or other family member.

Chaplain malpractice insurance provides similar coverage to that of counseling liability insurance which is purchased by therapists, psychologists, social workers, and other professionals that provide counseling services as part of their regular job duties.

Typical Coverages of Chaplain Malpractice Insurance

Though this isn't an exhaustive list, chaplain malpractice insurance typically includes the following coverages:

  • Defense Expenses related to Licensing Board Hearings and Other Proceedings: Limit of $5,000 per proceeding is included with NO annual aggregate; optional increase of defense expense limit is available up to $150,000
  • First Party Assault and Battery Coverage: Reimbursement up to $25,000 in medical expenses related to injuries and/or personal property damage caused by a patient or client
  • Medical Payments Coverage: Limit of $100,000 for Medical Payments to a patient or client arising from a bodily injury on your business premises
  • Emergency Aid Coverage: Reimbursement to you up to $15,000 for costs and expenses for medical supplies and lost earnings up to $100 due to the provision of volunteer emergency treatment or services
  • Fire Legal Liability Coverage: $150,000 liability limit for fire damage to third party property
  • Premises Liability: Bodily Injury Coverage and/or damage to property of patients on your primary office locations(s) with no additional cost