What is a certification of insurance?

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A certificate of insurance is a document that shows proof of insurance coverage. It provides key information about the insurance policy and is issued by the insurance company or broker. A certificate of insurance is often used to prove a business or contractor has liability insurance and workers compensation to complete contract work. It may also be used to verify other insurance policy details, like home or auto insurance.

What is a certification of insurance?

A certification of insurance, also called a certificate of liability insurance form or COI, provides information needed to verify specific insurance coverages. The COI is proof of insurance that acts as an insurance ID card with key policy details. If you are asked to provide proof of insurance, the certificate of insurance form may be easier to show as it is only one page, whereas an insurance policy has several pages containing information not all directly relevant or personal to the insured.

Key information provided by a certificate of insurance typically includes:

  • Name and address of the insurance company
  • Name and address of the insured
  • Policy number
  • Effective and expiration dates of the insurance policy
  • National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) number for the insuring company
  • Coverage details which could include vehicle information, liability limits, comprehensive and collision deductibles

Why do you need a certification of insurance?

Like an insurance ID that people can store on their phone or carry in their car or wallet, someone may also carry a certificate of insurance. You could provide a COI if you are shopping for a new vehicle or insurance, get pulled over or get a request from the department of motor vehicles for proof of insurance. You are required in most states to carry state minimum liability insurance to drive and many require you to carry proof of insurance to prove it.

You might need a COI if you are a business owner or are asked to provide proof of insurance to someone. The document is often used by businesses hired to do work for another business or individual. If the business owner is bidding on a job, they could use the COI to show they have liability insurance and any other coverages that may be required. With a COI in force, the client will know they are not taking on any financial risk of workplace injuries or damage by hiring the contractor.

In either instance, providing proof of insurance is necessary to show you have the required coverages in place. If you cannot validate you have insurance, you could lose out on a job for your business. If you get pulled over without proof of insurance, you could get a ticket, receive a fine or face jail time. Not providing proof of current insurance when shopping for a new insurance policy could mean higher insurance premiums because a lapse in coverage typically indicates a high-risk driver by insurance standards.

How to get a certification of insurance

To get a certificate of insurance, you should already have insurance coverage in place. If you do not, you will need to get a quote and pay for the policy before you can get the certificate of insurance. If you are asked to get an insurance certificate, consider these steps to get one:

  1. Confirm the coverages and limits needed by the person or company requesting it.
  2. Contact your insurance company to verify you have the right coverages and limits in place and request the COI.
  3. Make adjustments to your policy if you do not have what is needed.
  4. Once the COI is received, verify it has the right information from your policy.
  5. Provide it to your client or whoever requested the COI.

What is an SR-22?

In some instances, your insurer may need to file an SR-22 form, or FR-44 if you live in Florida or Virginia, which proves you have the minimum required liability coverage in your state. It is usually reserved for drivers who commit high-risk offenses, like lapsing insurance, getting a DUI/DWI, getting charged with reckless driving or driving without insurance. The SR-22 acts as a certificate of insurance and is provided to your state department of motor vehicles to prove you have the right insurance coverage in place.

Frequently asked questions

Is it ok to carry a digital certification of insurance?

If you are using a certificate of insurance as proof of car insurance, it is usually ok to carry it digitally. Most states require that you provide proof of insurance if requested by a law enforcement officer and allow you to show digital proof. If the insurance certificate is for your business, you may be asked to provide a digital or physical copy to the client to retain for their records.

What is the difference between a certificate of insurance and a declarations page?

The difference between a certification of insurance and a declarations page is a COI offers limited information about your insurance policy. Both documents usually state the insureds’ and insurance company’s names and addresses, policy effective and expiration dates, policy number and company NAIC number. However, a declarations page is part of your insurance policy that offers more detailed information, while a COI is a document that provides evidence of insurance.

How much does a certificate of insurance cost?

Generally, a certificate of insurance does not cost you anything. Some insurance companies may have a small fee for business owners requesting a COI, especially if they have to list a client as an additional insured on the insurance policy as a contract condition. The fee varies by broker or insurance company. If you are using a certificate of insurance as proof of auto insurance, you will likely not have to pay anything for the COI.

How long does a COI last?

A COI lasts as long as the effective date on the policy does. Once the policy period expires, the certificate holder should request an updated certificate of insurance to prove continued insurance coverage is in place. If the policy is cancelled prior to the expiration date, the insurance company will typically provide a notice.

Written by
Mandy Sleight
Insurance Contributor
Mandy Sleight has been a licensed insurance agent since 2005. She has three years of experience writing for insurance websites such as Bankrate.com, MoneyGeek and The Simple Dollar. Mandy writes about auto, homeowners, renters, life insurance, disability and supplemental insurance products.
Edited by
Insurance Editor