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What is a certificate of insurance?

A certificate of insurance (COI) is proof that your liability insurance policy is valid and in effect. It’s a summary of your insurance policy and covers all the major elements of the policy. Your liability insurance covers you in the event of any future claims by your client. Many clients won’t let you even step foot into the worksite without being able to provide a certificate of insurance.

What is proof of insurance?

When your client asks you for proof of insurance, he is asking you for the certificate of insurance. He wants to ensure that you have liability insurance to protect him in the event of any future claims.


All clients, whether a large business or a private individual will want proof of your insurance policy. It’s the same whether you’re hired for a full job or if you’re hired to work on a small part of a larger project.


If you have an active insurance policy, you can request the certificate of insurance from your insurance agent. Your insurance agent will provide you with the ACORD certificate of liability insurance.

What information is included in the certificate?

The certificate of insurance, or ACORD certificate of liability insurance, is just one page long and details the coverage of your insurance policy, including the type of coverage you have, who is covered, the dates that the policy is valid, the types and amount of the limits and deductibles.


The COI also lists any endorsements that have been added to you policy, often at the demand of your client (i.e. certificate holders) in order to protect the client against future claims. This includes but is not limited to additional insured, certificate holders and waivers of subrogation.


Your certificate of insurance also verifies if you have general liability insurance, professional liability insurance or other forms of coverage.

Is the certificate of insurance essential?

In one word, yes.


As mentioned above, most clients won’t let you start working without providing them the certificate of liability insurance. Clients require that you provide them with the ACORD certificate of liability insurance to make sure that they will not be held liable for any injuries, damages, substandard work.

Tailoring the certificate

Your insurance policy can be tailored to your needs and to the specific project that for have been hired to do; the certificate of insurance will reflect all customizations.


For instance, if the contract with your client requires that you use your car while working for him, your client may request that you add commercial auto liability to your policy, which will them be listed on the COI.


When you get the certificate of insurance, you can adjust your coverage according to your needs and your client’s requests with various endorsements and exclusions. These requirements are unique to your contract that don’t show up on your basic policy. 


It doesn’t matter who you are working for or how complicated the job is, if you can provide the certificate of insurance to your client, it gives you both peace of mind. What’s more, you’ll be able to close more client contracts if you can provide the certificate of insurance, helping grow your business.

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