BURRI AND COMPANY
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Burri Insurance Group offers a custom-designed (from the ground up) long term disability policy for Catholic clergy and religious. This policy was designed by us to fill a void that exists in disability policies. Every disability policy we have seen has major flaws when it comes to Catholic clergy and religious, even a policy issued by a company with a very religious-sounding name. Many companies try to fix these flaws by putting side agreements on the policies. This often does not work! In nearly every circumstance, discrimination among employees occurs. In addition, it causes a non state-approved policy that could end up in litigation over conflicting and ambiguous definitions. Our policy is built from scratch, backed by a $50 billion insurance company, fully state-approved, and canonically correct.
A typical policy will only cover United States citizens and people who are permanent residents of the United States while they work in the United States. We felt there were some problems with this, particularly regarding seminarians studying in Rome and foreign missionaries overseas. For example, we had a real-life problem in one of our diocese where a priest from South America was incardinated in the Archdiocese and assigned to work in Western Russia. There was absolutely no way a traditional disability policy was going to cover this situation.
Our policy has no mention whatsoever of residence or citizenship requirements.
Disability policies will not cover employees on a leave of absence for typically more than 30 days, or what is required in the Family and Medical Leave Act. In either case, the length of time they will continue to cover employees on leave is very short. This is a tremendous problem if one of your priests takes a leave of absence of a greater length of time. You are still canonically bound to take care of him, and the insurance company is not legally bound to do so.
Our policy offers a three-year leave of absence.
Almost every disability policy has a phrase stating that if the insured can work in any gainful occupation for which they are reasonably suited, due to education, experience, or training, they will not pay or they will pay a claim. What this means is that if a priest, for example, loses the ability to speak and can no longer say a public mass, they could expect him to be the "fry cook" at the local hamburger hut. We have encountered many dioceses that think we are exaggerating when we say that. However, if you carefully read your disability policy, you may be surprised to find that language is in your policy.
Our policy has absolutely no requirements or language even remotely suggesting a priest would have to work in any other occupation.
We know that these three examples may not convince you that you have a problem. Please realize these were just a small sampling of some of the problems we fixed. The biggest problem we have found is the "Offset of Income Provisions". Priests never really stop earning income due to the responsibility of the Dioceses for the priest's reasonable support. This conflicts tremendously with standard disability policies where, in order to collect benefits, income must drop. We very much want to address this subject, unfortunately due to the incredibly complex nature of the problem; we could not fit it into this space in a reasonable and understandable manner.
For more information, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.