When Should I Ask For a COI?

May 22, 2023

A COI, also known as a certificate of insurance, serves to verify the existence of an insurance policy by summarizing the key details of the policy. They typically include details such as the kind of coverage the policy is providing, who the policy is covering, and how long those protections will be in place for. These documents, issued by insurance companies, agents, or brokers, are the most common method of providing evidence of coverage.

Without a COI, professionals such as contractors will have difficulty landing jobs. This makes sense, as businesses would typically rather not take on the risk that could come with claims caused by third parties that work for them. In order to verify that your third parties have adequate protections in place so that your business doesn’t have to take on the extra cost, you’ll request a certificate of insurance from them.

In this blog, we’ll discuss how to know when you should request a COI from a partner or third party, as well as how to go about getting one. 

When Should You Request a COI?

Typically, a certificate of insurance is requested by a business or individual who is hiring another business or individual and wants to ensure that they have the appropriate insurance coverage in place to protect against potential liability issues.

A good rule of thumb is to request a COI from a party you want to work with before they begin working with you. This way, you’ll make sure that no uninsured and unprotected injuries, damages, or other potential claims occur on the job that you’ll be left on the hook for. 

There are many situations where you might want to make sure that someone you’re working with has insurance coverage in place so you know that everyone is protected in the case of any unfortunate events. Here are some examples of times when someone might request a COI:

  • Hiring contractors, vendors, or landscaping services. If you’re hiring a contractor, landscaping service, or other vendors to perform work on your property or for your business, you should request a COI to ensure that they have the necessary insurance coverage to protect against potential liability issues.
  • Renting a property. If you’re a renter, you may want to request a COI from your landlord to make sure they have coverage in place to protect against damages or liability issues that may arise.
  • Participating in events. When planning events like festivals or trade shows, as the venue or organizer, you can request a COI from the vendors to ensure they have coverage in place. 
  • Hiring in general. Any time you’re hiring outside people, you’ll typically want to request a COI from your workers’ compensation insurance carrier to guarantee that you are adequately protected against any potential issues related to workplace injuries. This typically is only true for hiring contractors and vendors.  
  • Booking a wedding venue. When booking a wedding venue, if you want to protect yourself from being held liable for damages or injuries that occur throughout the ceremony, you’ll want to request a COI from the caters, vendors, etc.

How to Get a Certificate of Insurance

If you’re the requesting party instead of the providing party, all you need to do is ask the vendor or subcontractor that you’re working with to provide a COI, and they’ll be the ones to do this process and provide it for you.

If you are the downstream party, let’s walk through the process of actually obtaining documentation that acts as proof of insurance. Here’s how to get a COI:

First, you’ll contact your insurance provider and let them know that you need one. They’ll likely ask you for some information to help prepare the document. Provide the necessary information, such as your business name, type of insurance coverage, coverage limits, and any additional information pertinent to the specific event or job, such as the dates of the event or the location where the job is taking place. You should also mention any specific insurance requirements or endorsements that are necessary for your particular situation. 

Once the COI is prepared, be sure to review it carefully and contact your insurance provider if there are any omissions or errors. Once the document is finalized, you can deliver it to the party that requested it, either electronically or by mail, depending on their preference. 

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