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 and homeless shelters. 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

  • Fiduciary Liability vs. Employee Benefits Liability

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    Legal Hairsplitting or an Unknown Exposure that Threatens your Ministry? I am ever impressed with the many exposures that threaten ministries and even more impressed with the determination of trial attorneys to find ways to sue them. One of the lesser known areas of susceptibility of ministries stems from the exposure they create from a benign source: the providing of employee benefits for staff. When ministries mature, they seek to attract and retain their human talent by providing such diverse benefits as health insurance, life insurance, disability income protection and even retirement benefits, such as 403(b) plans. While it is certainly a great benefit to offer such plans for the protection of ministry staff, these offerings also create exposure of errors and litigation from current and past employees. In order to address these exposures, the insurance community offers two distinct, but similar-appearing, tools that may cause confusion to ministry controllers as well as their insurance counselors: Fiduciary Liability and Employment Benefits Liability insurance. These are designed for different purposes, and their distinctions should be understood so that the correct form is chosen. The Fiduciary Liability form is designed primarily to provide coverage to fiduciaries who are sued for breaching duties imposed by ERISA. These requirements include discharging their duties solely in the interest of plan participants, defraying expenses in administering plans, acting with the care, skill, prudence and diligence that a prudent person in a similar situation would exercise, exercising the obligation to diversify investments to minimize the risk of […]

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  • Social Engineering: A New Threat That May Surprise You

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    What do the second-largest bank in Chile and a homeless shelter in Midwest America have in common? Recently, Banco de Chile lost $10 Million in a cyber hack, and the homeless shelter, though losing quite a bit less than that, lost in excess of $10 Thousand to a similar scheme. In both cases, they were the victims of what is known as social engineering. Basically, the way this scheme works is that the perpetrator first poses as the intended recipient of a transaction, such as a vendor with whom your organization may have conducted business. They provide false wire information to you regarding future payment instructions, as if they changed banks and routing numbers. Then, they contact the vendor, posing as you, to state that that there will be a delay in sending payment; giving an excuse for delay, such as a change of your bank. This allows the perpetrator time to provide you with the new routing number. When you make payment to the perpetrator, in short-order, the receiving bank account is emptied and closed, leaving the vendor unpaid and your organization without the funds to make the legitimate payment. The difficulty with this deception is that, technically, it is not a theft. That is, because you voluntarily sent money, albeit to the wrong account, you sent it of your own volition, thereby negating the coverage trigger of most every cyber-crime policy the insurance industry typically offers. So, what can you do about this to avoid being the next […]

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  • The Conflict between Replacement Value and Actual Cash Value

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    There are few greater joys for a mission Executive Director than receiving a letter from an attorney and finding that the mission is not being sued, but is instead, the recipient of a bequest. After many years of effort to raise money for a new dormitory, some person has now passed and willed a 30,000 square foot building that can reduce the fund-raising needs by a few million dollars! Praise God for His grace toward the mission’s ministry! Now comes the surprise: upon calling the insurance agent you are told that this building that cost the mission nothing, must now be insured for $6,000,000, the calculated replacement value. The conflict involving valuation is a complicated one. What a building is worth to someone is a function of utility. To the realtor, it is worth what an incentivized owner is willing to let it go for to an incentivized buyer; this is known as “market value.” To the Taxman, it is worth what the assessor’s office says it is worth, typically a percentage of predictive market value; this is known as “assessed value.” To the contractor, it is worth what it would cost to rebuild it with new components built by builders at prevailing wages; this is known as “replacement value.” To the person who recognizes its depreciated value and has no intentions to replace it should it be destroyed, there is the “actual cash value” defined as replacement value less depreciation. Lastly, there is the value that a building has […]

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  • Merriam Insurance Safety Committee Essentials

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    How to Properly Established Your Safety Committee Establishing a proper Workplace Safety Committee is one way management can encourage employees to participate in implementing and monitoring an organization’s safety program. A properly functioning safety committee fulfills several functions. Committee members should be able to identify problems, use their range of insights to seek solutions, and have the authority and expertise to implement essential policies and procedures. Here are some tips to ensure successful implementation. Step One: Select a Committee For most missions, a safety committee of 3–6 individuals, plus an additional person to take notes, is ideal. If your committee is smaller than this, you may suffer from not having sufficient diverse perspectives. If your committee is larger than this, there may be too much discussion and not enough action. Your safety committee needs a champion. This person does not necessarily need to be the chair of the committee, but should be someone who cares deeply about safety and doing things the right way. We recommend your committee include: Both men and women Line staff—people who know what procedure is being followed, and how it is being followed, which is not always the way it is written down An individual who reports directly to the CEO, or other senior leadership, to share perspective on what the committee is trying to accomplish. This person will also update the CEO/senior leadership on the actions of the committee Step Two: Schedule Regular Meetings Your committee must meet regularly to be effective. We recommend monthly meetings, […]

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  • Merriam Insurance Guide to Active Shooter Preparedness

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    The following is an overview of how we counsel missions in the development of an active shooter protocol. This guide is designed to help you utilize resources in your community to craft a response plan that fits your ministry. Through this guide you will learn how to: Educate key staff on protocols the experts recommend. Draw on the knowledge and experience of local law enforcement and other first responders. Develop and implement a crisis response plan. Develop training appropriate for all employees and complete drills at least twice annually. Step 1: Research Your Active Shooter Plan You will need to select a point person within your organization to organize meetings with local law enforcement and first responders. This point person should be the chairperson of the committee that develops your crisis plan. You will need someone who writes well to take notes and organize the group’s conclusions. As the plan is being developed, you want input from both male and female staff. We encourage you to have a group of 2–4 people who meet with first responders and develop the first draft of the crisis response plan. We also recommend you request that the mission leadership team participate in some or all of these meetings with first responders. Ask the local police/first responders to walk your campus with you and point out potential issues they see. Note these carefully. These can include unmonitored means of egress, glass windows that could be shot out and walked through, or areas of staff […]

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  • The Threat of Workplace Violence

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    Have you considered the threat of workplace violence? According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are close to 2 million victims of workplace violence in America, annually. This includes any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, even murder. In fact, homicide is the third leading cause of fatal occupational injury in the United States/ In the year 2000, according to the Bureau of labor Statistics Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, there were 674 workplace homicides accounting for 11% of the total 5,915 fatal work injuries. Recognizing that such threats exist, and knowing that victims of workplace violence not only cost the employer lost workdays but also damage the employer’s reputation, it becomes especially important that steps be taken to protect your staff. There are preventative steps which can be taken to help mitigate violence as well as deal with the aftermath of workplace violence. To begin with, there should be a zero-tolerance policy towards workplace violence. Next, policies and procedures should be put into place which include training employees to identify behaviors that may be an indication of future violence. Ensure that all workers know the policies and understand that all claims of workplace violence will be investigated and promptly remedied. OSHA has published recommendations for workplace violence prevention programs that are available at www.OSHA.gov/SLTC/workplaceviolence. Maintain a shared data repository of what incidents have been observed. What employees see of their fellow worker’s behavior may allow for management to better understand conditions and situations that […]

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