General Liability Certificate of Insurance

December 31, 2023

General liability is a popular and significant policy in the modern insurance landscape. It provides protection to businesses or individuals from third-party claims of bodily injury and property damage. 

We’d like to believe our vendors when they say that they have a general liability policy in place—but blind trust is just not the way the business world works. In order to properly verify that a third party has adequate coverage in place, you’ll have to work with documents called certificates of insurance, or COIs.

In this blog, we’ll discuss how to provide and request proof of general liability insurance through ACORD certificates of liability insurance. To learn more about Certificates of Insurance 101, check out the rest of our blog.

What Is Proof of Liability Insurance?

Businesses typically request to see proof of liability insurance from the various vendors and contractors that they work with in order to be responsible for their risk management efforts. They also do so to ensure compliance with legal and contractual obligations pertaining to their state or industry. 

The standard method of providing evidence of any kind of insurance is through COIs. These documents, also known as insurance certificates, allow you to verify that an individual or business holds an active liability insurance policy. 

Insurance certificates are created and distributed by a nonprofit organization called ACORD, which helps organize and standardize the insurance industry through important documentation and decision-making. The ACORD COI form that pertains to proof of general liability insurance is known as the ACORD 25, and it’s one of the most commonly used kinds of COIs.

Is General Liability the Same as Certificate of Insurance?

As we’ve covered, a general liability insurance policy is an active insurance agreement wherein an insurer agrees to cover someone in cases of third-party claims of property damage or bodily injury. On the other hand, a certificate of liability insurance, or an ACORD 25 form, are official documents that act as evidence of someone’s general liability insurance when filled out correctly by their insurer. 

While individuals and businesses pay to activate general liability coverage, COIs are free for policyholders to request from their insurers since they’re more like a receipt than a purchase.  Additionally, a policy’s documentation will be dense and detailed to cover all information related to the policy, whereas a certificate will typically be no more than a page in length, providing only the most fundamental details of the coverage. 

Effectively, a general liability policy is not the same as a general liability COI; the latter provides proof of the former. To put it another way, this is not a ‘chicken or the egg?’ situation, as insurance policies must always come before insurance certificates.

When Do You Need a Certificate of Insurance From a Vendor?

You need a certificate of insurance essentially every time you work with a vendor or third-party service provider to ensure that they have proper coverage for your project or partnership. You may also need a certificate of liability insurance in other scenarios, such as for an event or in the case of leasing out property to businesses. 

Let’s walk through a quick certificate of liability insurance example in business. Perhaps you are a property manager hiring several subcontractors for a renovation project. Even though the maintenance needed is light, you know that injury and liability are always likely on this kind of job. Therefore, you make sure to get up-to-date COIs from all considered vendors before allowing them to begin the work so that you can ensure that everyone is covered and compliant when starting the job.

How To Get a General Liability Certificate of Insurance Online

To receive a general liability COI to prove your own coverage, you’ll usually make an appointment with your insurance broker or agent. However, there are some insurance agencies and providers that offer online portals where you can receive your coverage. To see if you are able to get a general liability certificate of insurance online, contact your insurance provider.

How To Request a Certificate of Insurance From a Vendor

More than likely, if you’ve found your way to this blog, you’re a business owner or a manager hiring third-party service providers and looking to verify their coverage so you don’t end up facing unnecessary coverage claims. If that’s the case, here’s a quick guide on how to request a liability COI from a vendor:

  1. Consider your requirements for your vendor’s COI, such as policy minimums or a waiver of subrogation.
  2. Write a COI request letter and provide your information to be used in listing you as the certificate holder.
  3. Send it to your vendor.
  4. Play the waiting game as your vendor works with their insurance provider to issue the document.
  5. Verify the document, keep it organized in your files, and make sure over time that no one’s coverage is set to lapse.

Liability COIs Stacking Up? We’re Here For You

Don’t let the complexity of COIs scare you away from maintaining compliance and doing your due diligence when it comes to third-party vendors. Reach out to us today if you need help getting your insurance verification and COI management under control.  

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