It is very common while running a business to be asked for proof that your business is insured. Hopefully, this will be something you sorted in the very early stages of your business – perhaps you even read something like this post comparing Hiscox vs Hartford to see if one of these would have been suitable for you – and got in place before you started trading to ensure you were protected at all times. Being asked for proof is when a certificate of insurance will be needed to share information about your insurance policy and provide proof that you are protected against risk.
You may also need to ask businesses or subcontractors that you work with to provide their certificate of insurance (COI) to meet the requirements of the job that you are working on together. This protects your business if they have an injury or cause damage at the work site. By providing a COI, a business shows that they are sufficiently protected against risk to conduct business with you.
How To Get A Certificate Of Insurance When You Need It
If you are a business owner, there will be times when you need to provide a COI to a customer, and there will be times when you need someone to provide a COI to you. In the past, getting a COI has been a difficult and time-consuming process.
Before you purchase a business insurance policy, you should ask your insurance agent about a certificate of insurance. Make sure you know how to get one from them. Some insurance brokers make it very easy to get a COI. For example, Next Insurance offers an online app that lets you access it from your phone or email it to anyone you want.
Having a COI available when you need it is important. You could miss out on jobs if you don’t provide a COI in a timely manner. And let’s face it—if you are running a business, you have a lot of other things to worry about. So get the right policy for your business insurance and let that policy work for you.
When Do You Need A Certificate Of Insurance?
If you are running a business, you will need to have a certificate of insurance anytime you are contracting or subcontracting on a job. You will also need it if you are a vendor or a supplier. And if you are a homeowner, business person, or event manager, you will need copies of the business’s COIs to keep on file.
The answer is that you will often need a certificate of insurance. Here are some examples of when you will need a COI.
Picture yourself as a general contractor that builds homes. You are asked to bid on a project building new homes in a recently developed subdivision. As part of the bidding process, you must submit a certificate of insurance to the developer.
If you are a contractor, you will simply not get the job you are bidding on if you don’t have a COI. Some bidding contracts are not even considered without a prerequisite COI being submitted.
Visualize yourself as a handyman who is working on a small kitchen remodel. You provided the homeowner with your own COI when you started the job. However, now you need to move an electrical outlet before you put tile on a wall, so you have to bring an electrician onto the job.
You must ask the electrician to provide you with a COI. If something happens, and he is hurt or damages the homeowner’s property, both your business and the homeowner are exposed to financial losses. It could be left to you or the homeowner’s policies to cover injuries or damages caused by the electrician. You have opened yourself and the homeowner to the risk of financial ruin when you could have easily avoided it by asking for a COI.
Imagine that you are planning an event at a park where you will have art exhibits, live music, and activities. In the last few weeks of planning, you decide to add some food vendors to your event, so you arrange to have a few food trucks join you at the park, and you get all of their paperwork and certificates. At the last minute, an espresso trailer says they would like to join, and in a rush, you forget to ask for the COI.
When the barista in the espresso trailer gets burnt making a coffee, she sues the owner of the coffee trailer, your event, and the park. Unfortunately, the coffee trailer wasn’t actually carrying insurance, so the park and your event are now exposed to considerable financial risk. This wouldn’t have happened if you had made sure to get a COI.
Envision yourself running an automotive detailing business. A supplier comes to your shop weekly with linens, paper products, and cleaning supplies. Then, one day, your supplier slips and falls in a puddle of soapy water in your shop.
His injuries keep him from being able to work, and he sues you for loss of wages. Unfortunately, you could be responsible because it happened at your place of business, and he doesn’t have a business insurance policy.