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A certificate of insurance is a billboard to the rest of the world that says: “We’re insured, it’s safe to come on in and do business with us”. Many businesses use COI’s to declare their status of “insured” to potential clientele and convincing those people to do business would be difficult without one.

Contractors, small business owners and others require liability insurance to protect them from liability in the event of workplace injuries or other accidents. A certificate of liability insurance proves that they have this protection, a proof of insurance to any potential clientele.

The certificate contains verifying information for a business’s insurance policy in similar fashion to how a driver’s license does for an individual. The policyholder’s name, the policy’s effective end date, type of coverage it provides, and other important details are listed. This way the COI can effectively state, “This is who we are, this is our insurance, this is what it covers, and what it might not”.1

Why is a business certificate of insurance important?

A certificate of insurance for business is important because most people don’t want to do business with a company that is not insured. The COI can almost be viewed as a certificate of permission to participate. Like a sports physical clears an athlete as safe to play, a COI clears a business as safe to operate. This is all the more true for businesses that deal with work of greater risk, such as construction companies. Insurance on its own is highly important for the protection it provides a business and anyone that business provides services to or works with, but the COI proves to every party involved that this protection is in place. Doing business safely is important but doing it with peace of mind is important too.2

Different types of COI’s

Certificate of insurance for small businesses

If you’re a small business, you probably don’t have an army of lawyers like larger companies do. To make up for this relative lack of legal staff, you need to be insured against any of the random accidents, injuries and other damaging mishaps that can occur on premise or on a job site.

Certificate of insurance for contractors

Contractors tend to perform work that carries greater risk than most other businesses. That risk encompasses all of the potential for personal injury and property damage that comes with each and every job site. Being able to prove that you’re insured as a contractor is critical to continuing to find new clients.

Certificate of insurance across industries

Risk is everywhere. Even if you run a convenience store selling no food that can go bad or electronics/machinery that can malfunction, a customer could still walk inside, slip on the floor, and you might be liable. Being able to assert your protection against such liability or your protection against damages that occur against any person or company you work with is important. This is particularly true where risk is highest, but it’s still relevant for any business in any industry. No one ever plans on an accident happen.

How to get a certificate of insurance

You can request a COI from your insurance company at any time. Get some information from your client, including their name, address and tax identification number. Next, call your broker. If your policy already meets the requirements, they’ll order your COI from your insurer.2

How much does a COI cost?

Would you believe it’s free? Well, it is! Once you’ve purchased the required insurance, a COI simply exists to show you’ve done so. And there are no additional costs associated with acquiring it. Think of it like an invoice – documentation included as proof of a purchase you’ve already made.

Make sure you have the right insurance

Proving you have insurance is one thing, but having the right insurance is another entirely. Different businesses have different needs based on the amounts of risk they operate under. A construction company will need a different kind of policy than a smoothie café, and so on and so forth. Get a free quote from Nationwide today and learn how the right insurance can keep your business safe and prospering well into the future.

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[1] “What Is a Certificate of Insurance (COI)? When You Need One,” Caroline Banton, (Accessed August 23, 2023).
[2] “Certificate of Insurance (COI),” Mark Cussen, (Accessed August 23, 2023).

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