insurance policy on table
Insurers now offer churches abuse liability coverage to protect against sex abuse claims.

An embattled Canadian megachurch is temporarily shutting its doors after its insurer declined to renew sexual abuse coverage following a series of high-profile abuse cases involving church leadership.

The revelations have renewed distrust in the church's community, and prompted tough conversations around why something like "sexual abuse insurance" exists in the first place – let alone why it is necessary for a church to operate. 

Pews on Pause

The announcement came via an email sent to congregants of The Meeting House, Canada’s third largest megachurch.

“Many of you are aware that we have very recently encountered significant challenges obtaining portions of the insurance coverage we require to operate as a network of churches," the message read. 

The insurance policy in question? Abuse liability, which covers churches against financial losses in the case of sexual abuse by clergy.

“In light of this development, we feel led to pause our normal ministry for the month of July to dedicate time to continue discerning what form God is inviting us to take into the future as a network of churches,” the email continued. “We know this will be yet another difficult challenge for us to face, and we grieve the need to pause ministry as a church.”

A Shocking Legacy

The church’s downward spiral was kicked off by sexual assault accusations against the church’s head pastor, Bruxy Cavey. Pastor Cavey was one of Canada’s leading theological voices until the allegations were made public in 2021.

A subsequent investigation determined he “abused his power and authority” with a parishioner during a “pastoral counseling relationship.” Later that year, further allegations emerged from other victims, and he was arrested by the Hamilton Police Department. 

Following Cavey’s arrest, church leadership revealed to shocked parishioners that there were some 38 reports of sexual misconduct throughout the years spread amongst Cavey and three other members of the clergy, including one former youth pastor who was busted in 2012 as part of a child pornography investigation.

Now, amidst rapidly declining membership and facing several multimillion-dollar lawsuits, the church’s insurer dropped their abuse coverage, effective immediately.

What is Church Abuse Coverage?

To some, it sounds like a bad joke: Churches are so embroiled in abuse cases that they require expensive liability coverage to protect against damages from sexual abuse lawsuits.

And yet, The Meeting House is far from alone here; houses of worship purchasing abuse liability coverage is more common than you might think.

Though there are no hard statistics, it’s believed that most churches now hold some sort of abuse liability insurance policy. Depressingly, insurers actually recommend that any organization that deals with children or the elderly – schools, summer camps, nursing homes, etc. – hold some sort of abuse liability policy. 

Churches will likely be held even more accountable for abuse within church walls moving forward. In recent years, lawmakers in many states have expanded the statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse, or even eliminated it entirely. 

That could spell trouble for some abuse insurers, experts say. Last year, one popular insurer in Australia – Catholic Church Insurers – said that they’re even struggling to keep pace with the amount of hefty payouts stemming from child abuse lawsuits in recent years.

What do you make of the whole situation? Did you know church abuse insurance was a thing? 

37 comments

  1. Rev. Dr. Father JJ's Avatar Rev. Dr. Father JJ

    This is the magic that is religion. When you can convince people that there is an invisible, angry, insecure, pathological killer of a goD that demands they worship him (her, it, they?) and that a church, and a priest/preacher et al are the call centers for that gOd well then you've just handed over your free will to that church. And by Dog those 'clergy' will use it to their best advantage and gain. And if some of them are more inclined to diddle children, well then that's the price one pays to have freedom of religion.

    And as time goes on it becomes more and more freedom of religion and less and less freedom FROM religion

    oh well, you get what you deserve, whether you preyed for it or not (so many here will not get the play on words)

  1. David M Hines's Avatar David M Hines

    I'll just note that people who don't drive have no need for auto insurance and leave the obvious conclusion for the reader to discern.

  1. John W's Avatar John W

    Disgusting that we have ministers of any religion doing inappropriate things with children. One of the first Bible verses that I was taught was from the Book of John that stated to the effect: "Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Ministers and, all adults for that matter, need to keep their "hands" to themselves. Children have an innocence that causes them to instinctively look to adults for safety and protection. It's sad when that innocence is lost or otherwise destroyed by monsters that prey on them. That insurance even exists for such events is out there is a shameful thing and when used in excess is frightening when coverage has to be cancelled as it seems to show a church with deep issues that mere prayer and meditation cannot cure.

  1. Theresa C. Marquess's Avatar Theresa C. Marquess

    The abuse of a child is a life-long tragedy. I think it is a disgrace for all people who would prey upon children. Do you think it is forgotten by the child? No, it is not. It has an impact upon that child throughout its life. Teachers, clergymen, and yes, relatives who touch a child inappropriately should be punished by law. Oh, sure, there are laws and some people are prosecuted, but there are thousands of children out there who have been harmed, are frightened, and won't talk to even their family members, often for fear that other siblings may befall the same fate. Talk to your children! Listen to them! Assure them that they can come to you if something happens to them. Hopefully before it happens to them!

  1. Matthew Mastrogiovanni's Avatar Matthew Mastrogiovanni

    Why does this insurance exist? This is absurd.

    1. Rev. Michelle Love's Avatar Rev. Michelle Love

      I believe that if churches are required to carry this type of coverage, then schools need to carry it too.

    2. Patricia Ann Gross's Avatar Patricia Ann Gross

      Exactly. One of the problems with society is that it is the insurance companies that take the hit for our wrongdoings. This is why liability premiums are so high. Each successful litigation or or settlement causes the next one to get even bigger and the premiums escalate. This is not sustainable, and the people who are doing the wrong deeds are not the ones paying for it. Why would an insurance company even issue liability insurance against someone committing rape for a minor? I know that the church gets sued, but they should be and should bear the burden for not vetting their staff appropriately. The person should also go to jail.

  1. He Who Breathes's Avatar He Who Breathes

    The whole concept of insuring for that type of thing takes the onus off the church management to be vigilant against such abuses.

    There should be NO interaction between church staff and congregants that is not closely monitored, and recorded by cctv cameras.

    Trust is not to be taken lightly; We are all human, with human failings..

    1. Elizabeth Jane Erbe Wilcox's Avatar Elizabeth Jane Erbe Wilcox

      Am i correct in my interpretation that you simply consider it a “human failing” to sexually molest children?

      It is not. It is a conscious choice made by humans who wish to inflict lifelong trauma on children (even on infants and babies) in order to satiate their disgusting desire for sexual satisfaction with said victim.

      1. He Who Breathes's Avatar He Who Breathes

        You are correct for many cases, however, the majority of offenders do not even consider the effect on the victims - they are mainly concerned with their self-gratification.

    2. James Riggle-Johnson's Avatar James Riggle-Johnson

      That might actually work. Either tape the session or have a third person present at all times for the safety of the individual.

    3. Rev. Michelle Love's Avatar Rev. Michelle Love

      If people have to get background investigations in order to donate their time in schools or hospitals, then clergy members should be required to have the same type of vetting. You can weed out a lot of bad apples before they destroy the rest of the crop by doing that one step alone and may help reduce the cost of premiums at the same time.

  1. Rev. Roe's Avatar Rev. Roe

    And so we have seen Child abuse by ministers and priest, educators and family members and others. When this is found to be, a minister of ANY faith should be de-frocked and removed from their position and not sent to another location.A educator should be also removed from his/her position and ALL should be held accountable of their actions with NO exceptions and NEVER come in contact with children again. I do not know if there is a cure for this illness but only God can forgive.

    1. David Messenger's Avatar David Messenger

      Anyone who sexually abuses a child is not sick, they're evil

  1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

    As well they should. You get insurance to make sure that in case an accident happens, its covered. You dont get insurance to try and cover for sexual assault morons.

  1. Bridget Kielas-Fecyk's Avatar Bridget Kielas-Fecyk

    And yet these call pagans, and LGBTQ+ individuals "perverts" and scream that not being a Christian / Catholic automatically means you're a predator. And yet..... the vast majority of predators are coming from the churches. So bad in fact that they're needing to have INSURANCE against it just to be able to run their ministries.

  1. Lee Jason's Avatar Lee Jason

    In my church decades ago the minister was having an affair with a married woman. When she was caught she accused the minister of sexual assault. To minimize her involvement. He lost his church, job, family. She lost nothing for she was now a victim. She sued the church and won in an undisclosed amount. It took yrs but finally it was found out what she had done and her allegations were false. Too late for the minister though for his life had been destroyed. Nothing happened to her for the law won’t prosecute against women and children in fear real victims won’t come forward. It’s not just children that are abused or claim to be. Since the MeToo movement the amount of sexual abuse cases is skyrocketing. Not all of them are real. An upset child, broken hearted ex, vindictive person can also be a cause of these allegations. As serious as they are they carry a huge financial and social burden. I agree if you’re guilty you should be punished to the full extent. A lot aren’t guilty though and can’t afford the legal fees so they end up agreeing to a lesser charge so the prosecution logs a win. A case like this can start at around 60k to $400k very quickly escalating depending on the allegations. Plus jail time, probation or community service. I understand why there is insurance for this and it is a thing now. With some of these cases which are known as historic cases charges are laid and you then need to muster the huge amount of money to pay the lawyers to prove you didn’t do it. There is no cost to the claimant The system is not as it appears to many. If you don’t have the money to prove your innocence you’re done.

    1. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

      Lee, that was a good example both of why this type of insurance is needed and why any claim must be thoroughly investigated. There is a case of a footballer in the UK who was accused by a woman and it destroyed his career. Later it was proven in court that she planned the accusation against him because he wasn't going to marry her which she wanted. The crazy thing about the UK is that while the papers were allowed to publish his name, they could not legally publish her name not even after it was proven that she lied and made a false accusation. She never spent a day in jail either. It is time for society to rethink how such claims are made and to be sure that any woman who makes a false claim pays damages to the man and spends time in jail.

  1. Dorothy Hawkins's Avatar Dorothy Hawkins

    Wish there were cameras in my first grade classroom and on the playground, to catch the nun in the act of publicly abusing me in front of my peers. In 1961, NOBODY QUESTIONED the actions, motives, or moral proclivities of any religious figures - they were, in fact, considered "demi-gods" who couldn't possibly be immoral or abusive. If they were abusive to you, it was considered that "you must have done something to cause it". This abuse has shaped and colored my worldview since age 6. How much longer must children "SUFFER" to get to Jesus?

  1. Rev. Klaire ThD, MA's Avatar Rev. Klaire ThD, MA

    Crickets...

  1. Colleen McAllister's Avatar Colleen McAllister

    He Who Breathes:

    you are a bit overboard here. A vast majority of church personel are honest and would never imagine hurting a child or anyone else. Having cameras would not solve anything but cause people to mistrust everyone. Abusers always leave signs around we simply need to get to know our clergy better. And pay attention to the children. More openess will allow people to share when they feel threatened. Not suspecting everyone.

    As to the insurance I never had any idea that it was a thing. What a sad and sinful world we live in.

  1. ServantOfJudgement's Avatar ServantOfJudgement

    If anyone's read my thoughts about sexual abuse in churches you'll know I've been wanting this sort of thing for a long time.

    Punish them where it hurts. The resolve of the insurance company caused the so called church to shut itself down via fear of more sexual abuse. They stopped teaching the word of God(if they ever did), that's no church, no sir. God has taken his word from them as he's done before. That's biblical.

    Let's not stop there, let's make this sort of insurance illegal across the board in the USA. Schools, daycares, churches, boy scouts, all of them. Weed out the filth with vigor. Get them in front of a judge then escort them off the planet.

    1. Rev. Dr. Father JJ's Avatar Rev. Dr. Father JJ

      so ban religion. excellent idea and I agree for once with you. religion is indeed the root of all evil. in fact, religion IS evil. otherwise why would your goD allow children and others, unable to defend themselves to be physically and emotionally assaulted. no good comes of religion

      1. Rev. Michelle Love's Avatar Rev. Michelle Love

        Instead of banning religion, what do you think about banning churches instead? Religious texts such as the Holy Bible, Quran, Torah, Rigveda and Book of Mormon were all printed so that these faiths could be taught in the privacy of your own home. Church services existed partially in part that a lot of people did not know how to read back then. The problem with this is that the person reading these texts often gave their own interpretations of what they read which may or may not have been correct or have been skewed for political reasons. Reading the Bible is a highly personal experience and can literally provide answers to every question you may have about your life. However, I feel that people will be hard pressed to get those answers if they rely on other people to do work they can do for themselves.

  1. Rev Ned's Avatar Rev Ned

    A “church” shouldn’t need it, right?

  1. Russel A. Kester's Avatar Russel A. Kester

    Property, liability, directors and officers, and sexual abuse coverage are all needed by churches in order to protect the church from the financial consequences of a loss due to a covered cause of loss. This coverage means that the church will be able to stay in business to fulfill its mission if, despite its best efforts, a covered loss should occur. Insurance companies take providing this coverage very seriously and usually underwrite the risk to be sure that there are measures in place to protect both people and property. This can actually make a church operate better. In this case, it seems that church leadership and possibly the insurer failed to perform their jobs properly, but then we don't know how long this insurer has been on the risk. We also don't know what type of coverage it has such as a claims-made policy and its retroactive date if any. I stress the coverage is to protect the church and those in the church who are innocent and have supported the church financially over the years. It is not there to protect predators..

  1. Sarah's Avatar Sarah

    There should be no insurance, religious leaders should be above reproach, and if they are abusing people they should be handed the harshest punishment because of their position.

    1. Rev. Michelle Love's Avatar Rev. Michelle Love

      While I agree that religious leaders should be held above reproach, by not having insurance, you may deny a child the ability to get paid counseling services and damages for pain and suffering because the church could opt to file for bankruptcy rather than pay for the sins of their clergy members.

  1. Shango MasterExorcist, D.D.'s Avatar Shango MasterExorcist, D.D.

    Maybe they should have an "Abuse Fundraiser" where parishioners donate money to the Abuse Fund. As soon as there are enough millions in the fund, they can use that instead of needing insurance.

  1. Stephanie Lynn Bennett's Avatar Stephanie Lynn Bennett

    I seriously doubt IF Solid Rock Church, in Myrtle Beach, has this type of abuse insurance. The "Pastor" John Paul Miller, his recently deceased wife had filed for divorce. She claimed this type of abuse, in addition to, coercive control, forcing her to commit adultery with male prostitutes that Mr. Miller hired. Mr. Miller also committed the act with the male prostitutes he hired and forced her to watch. Mr. Miller had multiple under age female victims. His wife, Mica Francis Miller spoke with each young victim. They were too afraid of Mr. Miller to come forward. Now, Mica Francis Miller was found dead with a gun shot wound to hear head. This was after she had filed police reports of being gang stalked. This case has taken the USA and gone viral and global over the past several months.

    1. Beverly Lani Kai's Avatar Beverly Lani Kai

      St Paul traveled with his beloved Timothy. He advised how women must MUST behave. Female presence in Church leadership eventually died.. This set precedent in the growing church. One reason I left Seminary was because sexual exploitation of vulnerable women was tolerated. It was "sexual freedom".Plus, I was an alien being.

  1. Walter J. Holbrook's Avatar Walter J. Holbrook

    I hope to not ruffle any feathers. There are people who appeared shocked at the revelations of this happening in our church. The signs are there. They have always been there. That the leadership of the church has been preying on our children and the weak of mind. That invitation to pray has become the invitation to worldly pleasure. Even more, the look of how long has this gone on and no one in the church spoke up. Many knew and refused to speak out of fear or their own involvement. Using the house of worship as a cover. How many parishioners have been shamed into silence by church leadership or mislead congregation refusing to accept the truth.

  1. Ronaldo's Avatar Ronaldo

    I'm not entirely certain just how Canada views sexual abuse, but I interpret it as one of two things, both illegal. I would be wary of any insurance plan that covers financial liability for rape or child molestation. Nothing else should classify as abuse. Imposition, maybe, but even that is subject to interpretation. Is a friendly hand on the knee automatically sexual, or just a fatherly gesture of caring?

  1. Warren Calvin Wall's Avatar Warren Calvin Wall

    One has to question the motives of an insurer that even offers this type of coverage much less the churches that deem this coverage as necessary to operate. It seems to me that churches need to perform more in depth background investigations on prospective clergy and administrators. There are people that perform this service such as, private investigators. I wouldn't be surprised if many larger churches have members that provide this service. I would even say that this needs to be done for any person that will be placed in a position of authority. I imagine that the cost of doing so will be more cost effective than purchasing abuse insurance.

  1. Adam M. Ortega's Avatar Adam M. Ortega

    We're in the end times. Heresy and sin are rampant. Morality is non-existent. We've become a decadent society, have been, for decades. The church is in jeopardy, either through a legion of false allegations or through rampant pederasty. Every day we stray further from God. Everyday more and more church leaders fall into sin. Greed, lust, anger are the new watchwords of the faith.

    We are overdue for a cataclysmic spiritual reset. It's coming. Butress and fortify your mind, bodies and souls.

    1. Rev. Dr. Father JJ's Avatar Rev. Dr. Father JJ

      how convinced are you that you'll personally survive this coming event?

  1. Ari Joseph Bertine's Avatar Ari Joseph Bertine

    I'd never heard of abuse insurance. What a disturbing thing to exist. I'm not quite sure I even understand it; if someone is convicted of abuse, is that not directly on that person? Why would a church be liable? Are churches legally possessed of "personhood" as corporations are? Or is it that the church is a financial entity that has employees that it is legally responsible for while under its employ? I suppose I don't really understand how churches work, legally. It seems quite bizarre that they would be insured against their own clergy committing abuse, but it's beyond horrible that they'd need to be.

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