What Is a Certificate of Insurance?

 What Is a Certificate of Insurance? If a client requests your certificate of insurance, what is he talking about? Learn what this certificate is and when it can become a problem for your business.


So you’re ready to close on a big new deal. The contractor says, “everything’s all set but we need you to send a certificate of insurance over to our risks department before we can finalize things.” A certificate of insurance. What’s that? Hi, I’m Jeff Gordon from Gordon Atlantic Insurance.

What is a Certificate of Insurance?

A certificate of insurance, simply stated, is a single page document that states what your insurance program has.

Full Disclosure of Your Coverage

A certificate of insurance will state your general liability. Some examples of this include auto insurance or worker’s compensation. The only time that certificates of insurance can become a problem is when someone is asking for insurance that you don’t have. The certificate will show that you lack that coverage.

What If I Don’t Have the Insurance I’m Being Asked For?

So here’s where you have a problem. A certificate of insurance might prompt an additional conversation about that dreaded topic with your insurance adviser, because you may not have what contractor is asking for.

Can You Just Fill It In?

Occasionally people will ask us, can’t you just say on the certificate that we have the coverage? Insurance brokers are in the risk business and we’re not going to risk our insurance license to commit to writing down something that’s not accurate. There’s no other word for that: it’s called insurance fraud, and certificates of insurance really have to reflect what you have in your insurance program.

It’s Easy and Quick To Get What You Need

So when someone asks you for a certificate of insurance, insurance brokers and agents can issue them right away. Once they’re done we send a copy to the customer as well as to the person who’s asking for the certificate. And then it’s done. It’s a very simple process.

About Geoff Gordon

Geoff Gordon has been the owner/president of the Gordon Atlantic Insurance agency since 1987. Gordon Atlantic Insurance provides commercial and personal insurance to businesses and families throughout Massachusetts.

A prolific writer and recognized industry thought leader, Geoff has contributed articles to Banker & Tradesman, a regional trade periodical, and served on the Quincy Patriot Ledger’s Board of Economic Advisors column. He is a member of the Plymouth Rock Assurance Agents Advisory Council as well as the Bunker Hill Insurance Agents Advisory Council. Geoff has presented to the Financial Planning Association’s (FPA) education series and teaches locally. Most recently Geoff spoke to a TEDx conference on “Personal Risk for a Rich Life” in February 2016.

Geoff obtained his Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation in 1985, the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) in 1995, and his Certified Risk Manager (CRM) designation in 2004, and serves as an Asssociate Faculty member of the Institute of Insurance Education and Reasearch, a national credentialling organization.