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Satellite images lead insurance company to drop church’s policy
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Satellite images lead insurance company to drop church’s policy

  • PublishedMay 25, 2024



The new policy the church just got costs $20,000 — $15,000 more than what they paid last year.

SAN DIEGO — Images of a Southeast San Diego church’s roof are what an insurance company says it used to drop the church’s policy after more than a decade of the church making payments.

Sidney Buggs is the pastor at Greater Gospel Center Church of God in Christ. He was stunned when his insurance company GuideOne dropped the church’s policy because it said a satellite image showed wear and tear and broken shingles on the roof. 

“My roof was not leaking! I was trying to figure out when did they come? Then they said they did it by satellite. I said, satellite!? How can they see the condition of a roof from a satellite? I don’t care how close you got. You got to walk a roof. I’m a retired cement mason. General contractor. Yes the roof is old. It’s worn a little bit, but it’s not leaking. There’s no threat to leak. There’s no water spots in my sanctuary,” Pastor Buggs says.

CBS 8 went to the Greater Gospel Center on Tuesday. It’s in pristine condition. Two different congregations meet there on Sundays. The community has musicals there. Banquets and weddings. 

“All this we did with the community in mind. And this membership that’s less than 100 members. I don’t have no doctors and lawyers that are part of our congregation but these small people have come together to make it work. And that’s what this church means to the community.”

When Buggs first found out GuideOne dropped their policy, he contacted the solar company that installed solar on the church’s roof 6 years ago. The owner of the company sent GuideOne a letter telling the company his crews had walked the roof and it was in good condition with at least another decade of life in it. Buggs said GuideOne did not care.

GuideOne Insurance out of Iowa specializes in churches, nonprofits, small businesses and senior living.

Because GuideOne dropped the church’s policy, they’re forced to replace the roof so another insurance company will pick them up and cover them. The cost of the new roof under construction now: $51,000. 

Pastor Buggs said their insurance broker struggled to get a new policy because companies did not want to take on the liability of a bad roof — information they know when they see why their previous insurer dropped them. The new policy the church just got costs $20,000 — $15,000 more than what they paid GuideOne last year.

“We don’t have donors that can come write us checks. We’re hurting. We’re hurting,” says Pastor Buggs- who does not get a salary for his work with the church.

The Guide One report with the image it said it used looks like a Google search satellite image. According to the report, there’s no structural damage. No missing shingles. No rust. No Patching or ponding. In fact, the report says it has 81% confidence in the shingles.

CBS 8 reached out to GuideOne. Here’s the full statement the company sent:

“GuideOne does not comment on private matters involving our potential or actual policyholders. We do strive to keep policyholders informed of underwriting decisions in a timely manner.”

CBS 8 followed up that response with more questions about GuideOne’s overall policies. We have not heard back from GuideOne but CBS 8 will continue to ask questions about why they rely on satellite images instead of in-person inspections.

“GuideOne is a major church insurer. Major church insurer. And there are other churches in this city that I know of, they’re doing it to them too,” warns Pastor Buggs.

WATCH RELATED: Home insurance companies using drone aerial images to drop policies (April 29, 2024)



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johndweiner@gmail.com

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