Working with contractors, external vendors, and other third-party service providers can be very convenient—but it also comes with risk. Any time you hire a new vendor, it is a best practice to confirm that they have adequate insurance coverage in place in order to do their job and not hold you liable for their potential accidents.
In this blog, we’ll cover the main aspects of insurance verification, including details about the ever-important certificates of insurance services (COIs) and how to ask for them from vendors. Let’s dive in.
What Is a COI and How Do I Get One?
A COI, meaning a certificate of insurance, is a document that summarizes an insurance policy. It is the industry standard for providing evidence of someone’s coverage. Companies often require third parties to hold insurance policies in order to cover costly potential claims and will verify said coverage through the use of a COI.
COIs include information such as:
- Policyholder contact information
- Insurance provider contact information
- Policy type
- Policy limits
- Policy effective dates of coverage
- Coverage limits
- Policy expiration date
- Endorsements (if applicable)
- Certificate holder (you) contact information
To ensure that a vendor’s coverage is valid and meets necessary contractual obligations, you’ll need an official COI from them. A COI can only come from the insurance provider granting coverage to a policyholder—once they receive your request, they’ll work with their provider to issue the document and then return it to you.
Commonly, people initiate the process for obtaining an insurance certificate from a vendor through a COI request letter or other official ask.
How Do You Ask for a COI for Insurance Purposes?
For some professions, such as experienced general contractors, it’s so common to have to provide a COI to prospective clients that they might come prepared with the document in hand. Other vendors may need a nudge, however.
To request a COI insurance for vendor insurance verification, you’ll need to send a formal COI request form, which acts as an official ask for a service provider to work with their insurer to produce the relevant COI document to return to you.
Be sure to lay out any vendor COI requirements you may have, such as:
- The type of insurance policy needed (e.g., general liability)
- Minimum coverage amount necessary
- Additional insured or other endorsement
How Do You Ask for a COI for Liability Insurance Online?
In order to ask for a certificate of insurance online (for any kind of insurance, including liability coverage and business insurance), you’ll simply write out a COI request message and send it digitally via email or whatever communications platform you use to speak with your potential new vendor.
How Do You Ask for a COI from an Insurance Agent? A Template:
Let’s walk through an example of a COI request template from the Girl Scouts of Western Washington.
This official COI request form starts with a salutation and an expression of gratitude at the parties working together. It goes on to state that they are requesting a COI for their files and what the purpose of it is, as well as where to send it once generated.
They go on to lay out their COI vendor requirements, including the insurance carrier rating they’re expecting, the policy type and limit they’re looking for, assurance that the insurance timeline aligns with their project’s timeline, an additional insured endorsement that adds them onto the policy, and their own certificate holder information.
At the end, they politely leave room for questions and provide an email address where one could ask them. Finally, they end off with another professional thank you and a polite email closing.
How Long Does It Take to Receive a COI from an Insurance Company?
To reiterate, COIs can only be generated by the insurer providing the policy in question. The process goes like this: you (the hiring party who will become the certificate holder) officially ask a vendor for a COI. They go to their insurance provider (or reach out through their online portal) to review your requirements and to make sure the policy aligns or make changes to the policy so that it does.
They’ll then produce the document, which generally takes no longer than a few days, and provide it either right back to the policyholder or deliver it straight to you!
Remember, though, that the work doesn’t stop once you have a COI in hand. You’ll still need to validate it, verify that it meets your coverage standards, and work to maintain your vendors’ coverage throughout the length of your partnership, especially since all coverage will eventually expire if not renewed.
myCOI Helps You Stay on Top of COI Management
Certificates of insurance are simple documents, but their verification can make for a difficult process, especially when you have more and more vendors to keep track of. Our state-of-the-art, easy-to-use COI tracking software helps you stay on top of the daily duties of COI management. Beyond that, we are a team of industry experts and are on your side when it comes to insurance questions, COI confusion, and, ultimately, ensuring your compliance. Book a demo with us today to learn more!