A certificate of insurance is a document that demonstrates proof of insurance coverage. It provides key information about an 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 coverage specifics.

What is a certificate of insurance?

A certification of insurance, also called a certificate of liability insurance form or COI, provides information needed to verify specific insurance coverage details. 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, and comprehensive and collision deductibles

When 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.

COIs are most commonly used by business owners who carry liability insurance. 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 individuals. If the business owner is bidding on a job, they could use the COI to show they have liability insurance and any other coverage types that may be required. With a COI in force, the client will know they are not taking on any additional financial risk of workplace injuries or damage by hiring the contractor.

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. Although the COI request process may vary by carrier, the general process is outlined below.

  1. Consider why you need the COI. In the case of business coverage, you’ll likely want to confirm the coverage types and limits needed by the person or company requesting it.
  2. Contact your insurance company to verify you have the right coverage types and limits in place and request the COI.
  3. Contact your insurance company through your agent or virtual tools to formally request a COI.
  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 the difference between a COI and an SR-22?

The main difference between a COI and an SR-22 is the reason you need proof of insurance. A certificate of insurance may provide proof of coverage and other policy details in various situations. These may include when pulled over, when completing business paperwork or when communicating with your department of motor vehicles.

An SR-22 form is a state-mandated certificate filed with your state’s department of motor vehicles to provide proof of minimum auto liability coverage. SR-22s are required after high-risk driving incidents like driving without coverage or a DUI conviction. In Florida or Virginia, the form is an FR-44, rather than an SR-22.

Both forms are proof of insurance coverage. While a COI is typically provided to a company or police officer by the policyholder directly, an SR-22 is usually sent by an insurance company on your behalf to the state’s motor vehicle division. While you can usually request a COI from any insurance carrier for any policy type, SR-22 filing is only offered by a handful of car insurance carriers and you will likely pay an above-average coverage rate if you require this service.

Frequently asked questions

    • 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.
    • 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, coverage details and company NAIC number. However, a declarations page is part of your insurance policy and offers more detailed information, while a COI is a document that provides evidence of insurance. Although a declarations page may contain much of the same information, it might also have sensitive information on it about the policyholder and policy, which is why many business owners choose to use a COI for proof of coverage instead.
    • 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.
    • A COI lasts as long as the effective date on the policy does. Once the policy period expires, the certificate holder may want to request an updated certificate of insurance to prove continued insurance coverage is in place. If the policy is canceled prior to the expiration date, the insurance company will typically provide a notice.