Does Certificate Wording Change Coverage?

August 20, 2023

What is a Certificate of Insurance?

A Certificate of Insurance (COI) is a document outlining the coverages of the insured. It can be issued by the insurance carrier or an insurance agency. A Certificate of Insurance will contain important basics such as policy expiration dates and individuals covered. It will list the various coverages that you have and the dollar amount of coverage as of the date the certificate was issued. The Certificate will also list the address of the issuing insurance company, along with contact information for the insurance agent. If several insurance companies are involved for various coverages, all names are listed.

When is a COI needed?

Small business owners and contractors commonly will need to provide a COI in order to conduct business. When a company or individual hires you, the client will want to know that you have liability insurance so that they will not assume any risk if you cause damage, injury or perform substandard work. If you have employees, the Certificate will also show that you are in compliance with your states’ laws regarding Workers Compensation insurance. Without a COI, a contractor may have trouble winning bids.

What else might be on a Certificate of Insurance?

If you are a contractor, you might need to provide evidence that there are certain endorsements on your policy such as a waiver of subrogation or a hold harmless agreement. Instead of providing a copy of your policy, the agent or carrier issuing the COI can list this on the Certificate. However, it is very important to understand that the wording on a certificate in no way alters or changes the coverage on a policy. This is a very commonly misunderstood aread that has led to many claims. Always review your contracts to be sure that your insurance coverage meets your contract requirements, and that your policy is endorsed accordingly by contacting your independent agent. If you are unsure, it is extremely important that you review you coverage with your agent to confirm you are in compliance.

When should you get a COI?

You should request a COI when you receive your initial policy documents. However, as your business grows or if you need to change coverage, you may need to request an updated Certificate. Remember, a Certificate of Insurance is only valid during the policy period listed on it and as of the date the certificate was created. When your policy renews, you will need to request a new COI. You should never change the dates on a Certificate yourself.  If you are a Brooks, Todd & McNeil client, you can request a COI through our Commercial Lines service team. We strive to provide them within 24 hours of your request. We may be reached at 800-448-4567.