How did 2015 play out for Adventist Risk Management, Inc. (ARM)? You might wonder why this is an important question. How ARM has been affected during a calendar year is often indicative of the impact on the church in many ways. ARM’s sole mission is the protection of the church through prevention, loss control, and risk financing or insurance. The answer can be found in three words: storms, liability and travel.
STORMSAs of mid-November, the National Hurricane Center recorded 12 Atlantic Ocean hurricanes and tropical storms during the 2015 season and another 20 in the Pacific. The church was not catastrophically impacted by these events. The threats of winter storms will come next. These have already started in various parts of the world and in North America.
Aside from hurricanes, there was other storm activity. For example, one tornado in Pennsylvania destroyed the Blue Mountain SDA Elementary School. Fortunately, the secondary academy near the elementary school did not suffer any damage. Within 24 hours, ARM was on the ground assisting the elementary school as they prepared to open for the new school year.
LIABILITYLiability claims have an impact on the church and ARM. The cost of resolving liability claims is escalating as costs of medical care and demands for settlements rise. This year we saw a number of traumatic injury and death claims from sports and school activities and vehicle accidents that claimed the lives of a number of church members. While insurance can certainly assist the families financially, nothing can replace the loss of a family member short of the Second Coming. It reminds us how fragile life can be and how a moment of negligence can have an irreversible impact.
I cannot pass this discussion by without reminding you that 15 passengers vans should be dropped from all church activities when used to carry passengers. They continue to result in deaths in our congregations. News reports continue of other groups that have also naively taken advantage of the low prices that these vans are often available for and have paid an ultimate price. ARM’s warnings have not changed—Do not use 15-passenger vans to transport people. They put lives at risk.
Cyber liability is gaining more attention these days, as hacking today is not an unusual occurrence. The statement most heard from the experts is, “it is not if you will be hacked, but when you will discover you have been hacked.” This has proven true in many Adventist church settings. Hackers often target nonprofits and religious organizations. Why? The church has a lot of information about members that attracts identity theft. Unfortunately, these organizations are often not as up-to-date on security as they should be.
TRAVELWith the recent events of terrorism in Paris, the Middle East, and Africa, the church needs to take special care in how it can keep traveling staff out of harm’s way. This also applies to Inter-division Employees (IDEs or missionaries) and local workers in various parts of the world. While we cannot avoid all risk in fulfilling the mission of the church, careful thought on precautions and how we protect our workers is very important in this day. During 2015, ARM has seen an increase in the number of evacuations we have handled for the church during times of political unrest and threats.
As 2015 comes to a close, I want to thank each of you for your support in ARM’s mission to protect the church. When you take the extra time to assure safety in the many different activities of our church, we are working together. When ARM provides such protection, we are taking steps to safeguard the church’s greatest assets—its workers, members, and those who volunteer to lead out in the work. While the protection of property is a priority as well, property can be replaced while people are irreplaceable.
As we look to 2016, ARM will continue to make good on our commitments in all aspects of the risk protection programs of the Church. Remember, “Our ministry is to protect your ministry.”