Chaplain Malpractice Insurance

What Is Chaplain Malpractice Insurance?

The term chaplain malpractice insurance refers to a form of liability insurance that covers chaplains, priests, and other clergy members. Chaplain malpractice insurance is designed to provide comprehensive and flexible coverage to protect the reputations, professional licenses, and assets of insured individuals. This type of insurance generally covers claims made against a professional for counseling services that a clergy member may provide to their congregants. The amount of coverage often depends on an individual's scope of work and the size of the congregation.

Key Takeaways

  • Chaplain malpractice insurance is a form of liability insurance offered to chaplains, priests, and other clergy members.
  • Insurance provides clergy members with comprehensive coverage to protect their reputations, professional licenses, and assets.
  • This type of insurance generally covers claims made against a professional for counseling services provided by clergy members to their congregants.
  • The amount of coverage and premiums depend on an individual's scope of work, location, and congregation size.
  • The risks are greater for clergy members who provide counseling services outside religious facilities, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical centers.

How Chaplain Malpractice Insurance Works

Malpractice insurance is a form of liability insurance that covers certain professionals, traditionally providing legal protection for health care workers. Doctors, nurses, and others in the field with malpractice insurance are covered against lawsuits filed by patients and/or their families who may seek damages because of the professional's negligence or intentional actions, or in the event of a patient's death.

This kind of coverage is now available to professionals in many different sectors. Just as medical malpractice insurance covers health care workers, these policies are tailored to the specific duties of the insured individuals like lawyers, financial professionals, corporate officers and directors, and even clergy members.

While not considered to be in the same professional field as a therapist or psychologist, chaplains, priests, and other clergy members are often called upon to counsel congregation members. Counseling responsibilities 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. 

The nature of this sensitive role puts clergy members up for risk of litigation, especially if their actions negatively impact a congregant. Insurance provides coverage against malpractice claims caused during counseling activities—unintentional or otherwise. Policies protect the assets and licenses, along with the religious and professional reputations of clergy members. As noted above, the amount of coverage and the premiums paid by the insured depends on where they're located, the nature of their roles, and how many congregants they serve.

Chaplain malpractice insurance is also called pastoral insurance, church insurance, or priest malpractice insurance.

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 face.

The risks are greater for clergies who provide counseling services outside religious facilities and may visit patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical centers. For instance, a patient may complain to a chaplain about mistreatment in a nursing home. That person's family may end up suing the chaplain for not alerting someone about the allegations.

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

Types of Chaplain Malpractice Insurance Coverage

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: Coverage is limited to $5,000 per proceeding with no annual aggregate. An optional increase of defense expense limit is also available for coverage of up to $150,000.
  • First Party Assault and Battery Coverage: Insured individuals are reimbursed up to $25,000 for medical expenses and/or personal property damage caused by a patient or client.
  • Medical Payments Coverage: This applies a limit of $100,000 for medical payments to congregants injured in a priest or clergy member's premises.
  • Emergency Aid Coverage: Individuals are reimbursed for medical supplies up to $15,000 and for lost earnings up to $100 due to the provision of volunteer emergency treatment or services.
  • Fire Legal Liability Coverage: This provides a liability limit of $150,000 for fire damage to third-party property.
  • Premises Liability: Coverage extends to bodily injury and/or property damage of a clergy member's primary office locations(s) with no additional cost.

Article Sources

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  2. CPH & Associates. "Malpractice Insurance FOR INDIVIDUAL PROVIDERS." Accessed July 27, 2021.

  3. American Professional Agency. "Clergy & Pastoral Counselor." Accessed February 7, 2021.