What is a Certificate of Insurance (COI)?

What Is a Certificate of Insurance (COI)? 

A certificate of insurance (COI) is a document which is provided by either your insurance carrier or broker in order to prove that you have an insurance policy. This is typically a short document which lists the general details of your coverage including limits, effective dates, policy numbers, and insurance carriers. The certificate can list multiple policies from many different carriers.

Why a Certificate of Insurance?

Certificates of insurance are much shorter and easier to read than full policy documents. This allows other parties (such as your landlord or another business you are providing services for) to verify you carry the insurance they require in order to do business with them without needing to review lengthy insurance policies. These parties also may request to be listed as a “certificate holder” or “additional insured” on the certificate. 

What Is a Certificate Holder and How Does an Additional Insured Differ?

Plainly, the certificate holder on a certificate of insurance is the person or organization who the certificate was generated for such as a lessor or business partner. There is a difference between simply being listed as a certificate holder, and being listed on the policy as an additional insured. An additional insured is a named person or organization who is covered by the policy even though the policy is not in their name. Some policies have what is known as a “blanket additional insured” endorsement. This will automatically include specific entities which you may be contractually obligated to list as an additional insured. 

How Long Is a Certificate of Insurance Valid? 

A Certificate of Insurance is generally valid as long as your policy is in force (typically a year). Cancellation would automatically deem the certificate of insurance null and void, unless the policy is reinstated.

I Provided a Certificate of Insurance, Now What? 

Usually, certificates of insurance are maintained by the certificate holder either indefinitely or until a certain amount of time has been reached. If you are ever provided a new certificate of insurance (typically at renewal, or if a new policy number is issued), it would be best to provide any certificate holders with whom you are currently conducting business a new certificate. 

If you have any further questions, it is always best to contact your insurance agent or broker directly. At Oyster, we strive to make insurance accessible. Please contact our experts regarding all of your commercial insurance needs. 

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