The insurance industry, reacting to criticism that black churches recently torched by arsonists have been denied coverage, says it will help find insurance for any previously covered house of worship destroyed in such an attack.

"It is important for all of us to be especially sensitive to the plight of the burned churches, synagogues and mosques and their congregations," said Vice President Al Gore, who announced the pledge Thursday after meeting with insurance company representatives and regulators.The insurers also promised not to cancel coverage for a house of worship in the middle of a policy period, but they did not say they would always renew a policy, said an administration source familiar with the meeting. The reason is that nonrenewal may be based on legitimate reasons, such as a failure to pay premiums.

They also did not promise that the rates wouldn't go up, a congressional source said.

In addition to pledging to help previously covered houses of worship find insurance, the industry also agreed to:

-Establish a reward fund for information on church arsons, offering $10,000 if the information leads to an arrest or conviction.

-Set up a toll-free insurance help line for churches: 1-800-324-2605.

-Offer a free inspection service to check for fire risks in houses of worship.

A recent spot check by The Associated Press found that after white church arsons, insurers paid the claims quickly and were praised by pastors for courtesy and efficiency. Of 10 burned black churches and eight white churches contacted by the AP, insurance was dropped from five - all of them black.