Sheltering those who provide shelter

We understand that rescue missions are exposed to unique risks…
…such as those stemming from homeless residences, feeding programs, work programs, educational tutoring, and the dispensing of medications, to name a few.

Are you properly covered?
Does your current program provide coverage for your volunteers as though they were employees? What if a resident is hurt while doing work at the mission? Are volunteer drivers protected when they use their cars for mission purposes? What about your board members, are they covered for their decisions?

The Merriam Agency has been in business for over 100 years and can give you the solutions to these and many other issues unique to rescue missions. Our purpose is far greater than just providing risk management and insurance services. We use our skills and resources to support those who assist the disadvantaged, disenfranchised and the destitute.Contact us for a free, no obligation quote today.

Recent Articles

  • Workers Compensation vs. Disability Income

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    Few people think about Workers Compensation (“WC”) insurance until it is needed. It is compulsory coverage required of most every employer for the benefit of most every employee. It is a trade-off that requires employers to provide unlimited work-related medical benefits to employees who are injured at work in exchange for eliminating liability to the employer from the employee’s allegation of negligence for the work-related injury or illness. WC provides three primary benefits: medical coverage, rehabilitation services, and loss of wages. Typically, the health and rehabilitation benefit are without limits with the goal to help put the injured/ill employee back to work as quickly as possible. However, the work wage loss is typically limited to a percentage of the gross wages, such as 2/3. Additionally, there is a cap on how much is ultimately to be paid, from a low of $478/week (Mississippi) to a high of $1,688/week (Iowa). Thirty-five states have a maximum of less than $1,000/week. The only employee who is usually allowed to be removed from the WC mandate is the President or Executive Director of an organization. Since this person may be compensated at a high wage, it is common that the amount of work wage benefit provided under WC may prove to be woefully inadequate. If they are covered under a major medical plan, they really do not need 2 out of the 3 benefits that WC coverage provides. Therefore, it is likely a much better value for the President or Executive Director to obtain […]

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  • D&O Retention Limit and what it means to you

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      Q: In Directors & Officers Liability insurance (“D&O”) for my mission I notice a $5,000 Retention Limit on the policy declaration page. What is that and what does it mean to us? A: Directors & Officers Liability insurance is an essential form of insurance that provides both defense and settlement for the mission’s Board of Directors and Officers (CEO, CFO, Executive Director, etc.) if there has been an allegation of a “wrongful act.” There need not have been any actual bodily injury or property damage arising out of the alleged act, but there must be an allegation of something that was done “wrong.” Since there is no standardized D&O insurance form that all insurers use, there is a great difference between good insurance policies and weak ones. Typical, in a good policy, there will be provisions that allow not only the Board to be protected but also the mission as an entity; that is, not only will each board member be protected individually, but so will the mission.  An example of a claim that would likely need to be defended would be an allegation that an Executive Directors should not have been hired by the Board if he/she is accused of some malfeasance, such as mishandling donations, a sexual abuse allegation, or some other bad behavior. All Boards ought to carry D&O insurance for at least $1,000,000. Premiums typically start around $750/year and are based on size of assets, number of board members, staff and volunteers. A “Retention Limit” […]

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  • The Importance of Fire Drills

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    The fire that occurred at The Station nightclub on Thursday, February 20, 2003, in West Warwick, Rhode Island, took the lives of 100 people in under 6 minutes. Most of those deaths were due to the smoke created.  The loss of life might have been avoided had the attendees known how to get out quickly.  Have you conducted a fire drill at your facility recently? Before a fire drill is conducted, walk through your buildings and plan the best evacuation routes. Construct diagrams with those evacuation routes, and secure them to the wall closest to where those routes are going to be located. Encourage people to frequently review the evacuation routes. Fire drills should “regularly” be held at your facilities, especially in your residential and overnight locations. You should determine how many drills are appropriate and conduct them as often as once per quarter. Your first drill of each year could be pre-announced, but unannounced fire drills should also be conducted so as to see how your staff and residents respond. Time the drills to get an idea of how long it takes in order to clear everyone out.  Note any problems that were experienced such as aiding those who are handicapped in some way. Evacuees should stand no closer than 100’ from the outside of the building so as to avoid falling debris and allow firefighters room to tend to the fire, in case one actually occurs. Prepare a fire drill procedures manual and include such details as: Who […]

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  • Man-made Water: The Danger Outside Your Walls

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    One of our mission clients noticed water on the floor in their below-grade cafeteria dining room. A thorough check of all predictable sources of water were ruled out until someone decided to check on their storage building next door. There they found to their horror water up to the top basement step! Over 80,000 cubic feet of water had swamped their boiler, electrical system and mechanicals, ruining the finished basement and all of the contents within. Once the city water supply was turned off at the street and all of the water pumped out it was realized that, in addition to the immediate water damage, there was now the matter of the asbestos pipe insulation that needed to be removed by a hazardous abatement contractor. Additionally, there was growth of mold due to moisture now imbedded in the walls and the lack of fresh-air circulation. The cause of the water intrusion was the mission-owned water supply line that ran through the basement foundation walls, under the public sidewalk and under the street. It broke outside the foundation wall and the water followed the pipe into the basement filling it like a swimming pool and eventually leaching through the conjoined basement wall into the mission’s cafeteria. The loss estimate quickly topped $1,000,000! The problem with this situation is the inability for anyone to see, much less know, the condition of the pipe once it passed through the wall. What is the condition of your pipes that exist outside your building and [...]

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  • Abuse and Molestation Part III

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    Accommodating sex offenders It has been freezing rain for most of the day, and Benny walks up to your desk man just in time for dinner. He is a level 2 sex offender who wants a hot meal and to spend the night, or at least stay until the weather improves. Coincidentally, tonight is the night the youth group from the First Baptist Church will be serving the meal. Problem? I was recently asked for counsel on what risk management techniques should be implemented at a particular homeless shelter in order to protect the staff, volunteers, general resident population and the sex offender himself. This is a large question with many variables, including local laws, level of offender, duration of the stay, the layout of the shelter, the population served (gender and age), the proximity of the mission to other “sensitive” facilities (schools, daycare centers, residences, etc.), and general ministry philosophy and capabilities. Bear in mind, there is a difference between a sex offender and a sex addict. The former may have been caught urinating in public (level 1), produced pornography that included a minor (level 2), or committed a sexual assault (level 3). If they have been released from incarceration, it does not mean they are an addict who poses a continuing threat. Additionally, they may or may not be on a registry, and may, or may not, have to tell the desk man accordingly. Roy Tullgren (Ex. Dir. of the Gospel Rescue Mission Tucson) wrote an excellent article […]

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  • “Transgender Discrimination… does my insurance cover that?”

    Lawyer in Court

    Questions of discrimination are frequently being asked by Rescue Mission leaders. It is the right question to be asking; however, the risk is not limited to just non-profits. We have seen a dramatic increase in allegations of discrimination and lawsuits since the 2015 introduction of Caitlyn Jenner and the Pentagon policy shift. Claims of gender discrimination are no longer just in the big city. It is a part of a major cultural shift, and we are seeing claims of discrimination spread to regions and businesses that would have previously been considered “safe.” Some of these have been in the news, while others have mercifully stayed silent. As we studied the insurance policies protecting a variety of missions, we have identified numerous policies with significant gaps. Statistically, your mission's policy is probably one with significant gaps as well – and this is why we are very concerned. While these gaps exist in the almost all of the most commonly-purchased insurance policies for Rescue Missions, we also noticed other areas where missions leaders incorrectly assume there is coverage. Risks are increasing, we recommend that you explore this a little further. Testing and Transition Christians have been in the spotlight for discrimination for quite a few years. Whether declining to bake a cake or refusing to perform a wedding ceremony, the media are having a hay-day and the courts are very busy. This week, we learned of two more close-to-home situations, testing assumptions: 1. “Men have come to our mission wanting to be admitted to our [...]

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