At Christian Educators, part of our services include professional liability insurance and job protection coverage for our members. However, could one argue that buying insurance suggests a lack of trust in God?
For example, Proverbs 1:33 says, “But whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster (ESV).”
At first glance, this verse may seem to be saying that believers have no need to be prepared for trouble, as presumably, God will take care of everything for those who are His own. After all, doesn’t Romans 8:28 promise that He will make all things work together for good?
Actually, the “Voice” we are exhorted to listen to in chapter one of Proverbs is that of “Wisdom.” The first chapter exalts the value of seeking and practicing wisdom, and then the next 30 chapters explain what that looks like. For example, Proverbs 22:3 says, “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.”
And, it is absolutely true that God takes care of His own, even when bad things happen. But the question is whether or not we have any responsibility of our own. From cover to cover, the Bible offers a clear and resounding answer to this question: yes! Chapters 21 and 22 of Exodus are full of commands for making restitution for losses caused to others. In chapter 5 of Matthew, Jesus elevates these behavioral requirements of the law into matters of the heart. He shows that each obligation offers opportunities to love others as He does (e.g. go the extra mile). Then there is the place where Paul (1 Timothy 5:8) says that anyone who does not provide for his own household has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever! Clearly, as people of faith, we have the responsibility to be wise stewards.
God takes care of his own, but what exactly does He care about? In other words, what is His ultimate goal? If we read the whole chapter of Romans 8, we can see that the promise of verse 28 surely does not mean that we will never see any trouble or suffer any loss. We can also see that God has a plan for us to be “conformed to the image of His Son.” That’s what He cares about most and uses “all things” to accomplish —our ultimate sanctification! All the wisdom in the Bible is given to us so that we can know what that looks like and so we can cooperate with it and join Him in His plan. Though we stumble, His Word shows us how to restore what is broken, either by us or by others. Surely this principle applies soundly to the practical reasons why we buy insurance.
As Christians, we find comfort in knowing that God is ultimately in control and will triumph. We who have trusted Him truly have nothing to fear! Prudently preparing for difficulty and loss is something we do, not out of fear, but out of good stewardship of our health, family, home, vehicles, careers, etc. God’s promise to work all things together for good does not mean that we should leave ourselves unprotected when that protection is readily available and affordable. This world will bring enough trouble of its own without us adding to it by not being wise.
So what is insurance? It is simply a financial product by which we pay someone else to store up resources to help us respond to loss. Insurance comes in all different types to deal with specific kinds of risk. It allows us to commit less capital to reserves so that we can use it to pay for other things, such as housing, food, transportation, and generosity. Having access to quality insurance products allows us to avoid having to save up a whole bunch of money “just in case” we experience a loss. Insurance truly is a great innovation!
In the event of a car accident, insurance allows us to make whole our own loss as well as the losses we may cause to others, depending on the circumstances. Both are examples of good stewardship and directly address biblical commands to take care of our own and those we may harm. And both can occur in various contexts, including our professions.
It is not uncommon for state-certificated professionals to have professional liability insurance. This is because the state sets standards for professions that they certify, creating expectations of the professionals in how they perform toward the public. The typical office manager probably does not personally secure liability insurance, but the typical doctor, CPA, and teacher do because they are held to such standards. However, doctors and CPAs are more typically running their own businesses and making the decisions about what coverages or risks to insure, while teachers as a profession do not typically have the same executive-level input with their employers, even though, generally speaking, all employees are covered by their employer’s liability insurance.
So why do teachers often carry their own supplemental insurance policies? One reason is that damage awards can exceed the coverage of the employer’s primary insurance, opening the door to an educator’s personal liability. Employers with a large number of lawsuits in a given year may especially face this reality. Another is that it is possible, in some instances, for the nature of civil disputes to result in claims separating the interests of various defendants in a civil suit, which may leave claims against educators to stand on their own, or at the very least, to create defense conflicts requiring educators to defend their personal interests distinct from their employer.
Yet another reason for supplemental insurance, at least for members of Christian Educators, is that they also enjoy additional coverage to help protect their jobs and credentials in employment or licensing disputes. More and more often, we are seeing cases in which teachers first face disciplinary action from their school districts, which requires legal counsel to advise on this local level for a job action. However, once that matter has been resolved, state law may require the district to notify the state teacher licensing agency of the matter, potentially triggering a second need for an attorney to defend the educator’s license before administrative agencies. Thankfully, Christian Educators’ membership provides access to supplemental insurance designed to protect educators in these various instances–third-party civil litigation, job action situations, and licensing actions before state boards, with policy limits tailored to each coverage. Employers do not provide job action or licensing action insurance in any case.
The book of James makes clear that faith is not passive. We don’t express faith primarily by waiting around for something to happen. We express faith by taking action! Wise stewardship of the resources that God has entrusted to us can free our hand to provide for our own, be generous, prepare for the future, and preserve a good witness.
So should every educator carry professional liability and job protection insurance? Not necessarily. The risk of a lawsuit or a job loss is certainly not equal across all persons and places. Thankfully, as Christ’s followers, each of us has the gift of the Holy Spirit residing within us. Therefore, He is able to lead us “into all truth,” including whether or not a specific insurance policy is a part of His plan for us.