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Certificate of Liability Insurance Overview

A certificate of insurance (COI) is issued when a contractor needs official proof of liability insurance to bid or begin a project. The certificate itself is not an insurance policy but displays to the client that the contractor has the required liability insurance coverage in order to proceed with their contracting job. The COI is a standardized summary of a contractor’s insurance coverage, organized in a readable, easy to digest manner. As a contractor, you will often be required by a client to provide a certificate of liability insurance as proof of insurance to either bid on or start a job.

What’s shown on Certificates of Insurance?

After requesting a certificate of insurance, you will receive a document with basic information on the named insured and policy overview. To make things easier, here is a quick guide:
Basic Information:

  • Insured’s name and mailing address.
  • Insurance agency’s name and mailing address.
  • Contact information of insurance agent.

Insurance Policy Overview:

  • Description of the type of coverage, including policy limits and whether the insurance coverage applies on a claims-made or occurrence basis.
  • If you also have commercial auto liability coverage, the certificate should indicate this as well. It should include the types of autos the policy covers.
  • Other policies (for example, professional liability insurance or employer’s liability coverage) should also have limits listed when needed.

Other Information:

    • Information on what should happen if the coverage is canceled

How to Get a Certificate of Insurance

Obtaining a certificate of liability insurance is as easy as contacting your insurance agent. If you do not already have a certificate of insurance or need an updated one, you can call your agent and receive one in a timely manner at no cost. Before the certificate of insurance is authorized, it is a good idea to have your agent verify that the coverage required by your client is sufficiently fulfilled by your insurance policies, as there may be additional policies needed for the project.

Example of Certificated of insurance (COI)

Certificated of insurance (COI)

Important Information about Certificates of Insurance

If you notice an error on your certificate of insurance, contact your insurance agent immediately. The error could be an accident made by the insurance agent, or a gap in coverage you did not realize you had in your policy.

Your client may request to be named on the certificate of insurance as a certificate holder. This does not give them legal rights to the insurance policy; however, it indicates that they are formally accepting the conditions and coverage of your insurance policy. This is often requested by a client in order to verify that you, as their contractor, have the correct coverage for their job requirements as laid out in the contract.

The certificate of insurance is only proof of liability insurance; it is not an endorsement of the policy. If you require additional insurance to meet the coverage requirements, this must be discussed with your client and insurance agent to update your policy.

Always Talk to Your Agent

Your insurance company will know what is best for you and how to meet the needs of your small business. They are willing, and happy, to discuss any questions you have about obtaining a certificate of insurance and when it is necessary. If additional coverages are needed to meet the contractual needs of your client, we can help you through that process as well. Call (866) 225-1950 to speak with an agent at Contractors’ Liability about obtaining a certificate of liability insurance, or adding endorsements to your policy, to meet your client’s needs and start working.

Avatar for John Brown
Written by: John Brown
John has more than 25 years of experience in the insurance industry. He grew from a star insurance producer to owning one of the largest agencies in the country; he's a reference regarding contractor's insurance, commercial insurance, and builders' risk insurance.