As sexual abuse cases against the Catholic Church continue to pile up, insurance companies are increasingly denying coverage that would shield the Church from millions of dollars in civil judgments. “The insurance companies have taken a very hard line in court in terms of the types of proof needed to prove coverage. In a lot of these cases, you don’t have insurance playing a role,” said University of St. Thomas School of Law Dean Patrick Schiltz, who has represented dioceses in sexual misconduct cases. “In all of these hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, a very tiny percentage is going to get picked up by insurance.”
Insurance experts say that dioceses hit with sexual abuse claims have likely used up their insurance coverage – which may not have been enough to cover the costs of settlements with victims in the first place. In addition, this liability insurance will likely become more expensive and restrictive as the scandal continues to grow, the Washington Post reported.
The Church can also expect insurance companies to invoke a standard provision in many liability insurance policies that cover sexual misconduct that states that insurance will not cover conduct that the bishop or diocese intends or expects to occur, the Post reported. In 1990, insurance companies refused to pay a judgment against a Minnesota diocese for a priest with a well known 15-year sexual abuse history because “church officials should have known that he would abuse again,” according to the Post.