What Is a Certificate of Insurance and How Do I Get One?

  • Published Dec 12, 2022

If you need a certificate of insurance and already have a policy in place, we’ve got some good news for you! It may be easier to get this document than you think. Read on to find out what a certificate of insurance is, when you might need one, and how you can get a certificate of insurance.

What Is a Certificate of Insurance?

If you’re a business owner, you may have all kinds of certificates on the wall, from your hard-earned college degree to the certification needed by your city to run your business. These certificates prove that you’ve passed your classes or have met the requirements set out by the city. A certificate of insurance is similar. A hundred years ago, business may have been done with the power of a handshake, but today in the business world everyone wants to see receipts.

And the easiest way to prove you have insurance coverage is with a certificate of insurance (COI).

These certificates are sometimes called proof of insurance, insurance certificate, subcontractor certificate of insurance, and certificate of insurance form. No matter what you call it, this document is important for both business owners and subcontractors to show compliance with workers’ comp rules.

What Does a Certificate of Insurance Typically Include?

Your certificate of insurance lists the name of your policyholder, the type of insurance you have, your policy number, the policy period, and more. Whenever you need this information, it’s all in a handy spot for you to reference.

Why Might a Business Need a COI?

In many states, most businesses, with a few exceptions, need to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage for all eligible workers, which includes part-time workers. In most states, even if you have just one employee, you need to pay for workers’ comp for them.

If you don’t carry workers’ comp when you have to, you could face hefty penalties and you could be open to lawsuits if someone is injured on your worksite. Worse, some businesses you work with may also face legal problems, which is why they want to make 100% sure you have the right workers’ comp insurance.

Why Ask for a Certificate of Insurance?

Any time you enter into an agreement with a business or partner, they may want to check that everything is shipshape, and that means making sure you have the right insurance coverage. When you act as a contractor or you enter into an agreement with another business, the other company will likely want to see a certificate of insurance to make sure you’re covered.

If you place bids on public works projects and government projects, you’ll usually need to submit certificates of insurance with your bid, to show you have coverage in place.

You may also need a COI if the workers’ compensation board in your state thinks you might not have workers’ comp insurance. They might want to see your certificate of insurance or some proof of insurance. Even some auditors might want to see COIs along with your other financial documents.

When Do Subcontractors Need to Provide a Workers’ Compensation Certificate?

If you work in a state where subcontractors need workers’ compensation for themselves and their workers, you might eventually be asked to show a COI. Your workers’ compensation certificate shows you’re compliant.

Even if you’re a subcontractor in a state where you’re not required to have workers’ comp, some clients or suppliers still ask you to have that coverage. Government entities and companies sometimes look to reduce their own liability by asking independent contractors and subcontractors to carry workers’ comp coverage. You might be asked to show a certificate of insurance before you sign a contract with a supplier, business, or any entity with this requirement.

If you’re a business working with an independent contractor or subcontractor, you may want to ask to see proof of their insurance. If the contractor is injured at your business and it turns out they did not have insurance, they could file a claim against you to help pay for their injuries. With insurance, their injury costs are covered and you face a lower risk of legal action. Win-win.

Where And How Do I Get a Certificate of Insurance?

Before you get a workers’ compensation COI, you first need a policy in place. To get that, look for an expert worker’s comp carrier. Check reviews and compare to find a company that has extensive experience in the industry and has worked with businesses like yours. You’re seeking a reliable carrier who’ll be there for you when you need them.

Once you’ve got an insurance provider you want to work with, its time to get coverage. This can take some time, though, with a lot of back and forth with the provider. Cerity makes the process easier. With us, you take three minutes to answer basic questions and get back a quote for a policy that’s designed for your specific business. We work hard to make sure you get the right coverage at a competitive price.

Once your policy is in place, you’re ready! At this stage, you can ask your carrier for a certificate of insurance. Cerity makes the process even easier, though. If you have insurance with us, you can just log in and download your COI yourself, any time, anywhere.

What Does a Certificate of Insurance Cost?

Good news: if you have an insurance policy in place, it doesn’t cost anything to request or get a certificate of insurance. It’s part of the job of an insurance company, agent, or broker. You’re paying insurance premiums for the insurance but will not pay an extra fee to get a COI.

The only other time money might come into the picture is if you realize you don’t have the insurance or the coverage a business partner or bid needs. If that happens, you might need to buy a rider or even change your policy to meet the requirements. How much this costs will depend on what coverage you need.

How Can Cerity Help?

Did you know that only 35% of small businesses are satisfied with their insurers? Cerity wants to change that by being a different kind of workers’ comp insurance company. We’re champions of small business, offering workers’ comp coverage for every type of business, from food trucks to plumbers to just about every small business in between. And we do it with policies that cost as little as $20 a month. It takes just minutes to sign up, too, so you can get back to the business you’re building.

Cerity makes it easy to get worker’s comp coverage in place for your business so you can then get your proof of insurance. And with easy-to-generate COIs that you can download yourself, it’s never been easier to get a certificate of insurance to prove you have workers’ insurance in place. If you need to submit a bid for a government contract or need proof of your coverage, Cerity makes it easy to get the documents you need, right on the spot.

Check out how much we can save you today. Get a free quote for workers’ comp insurance with our free online quote tool.

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The information provided is intended to provide a general overview. This information is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Cerity® makes no warranties for the accuracy, adequacy, or completeness of the information provided, and will not be responsible for any actions taken based on the information contained herein. If you have legal questions or need legal advice, please consult an attorney.