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Certificates of Insurance
Certificates of Insurance (COI) are passed between business-owners each year for many different purposes. For the most part, they are utilized to gain the ability to work for another party, to allow another party to do work on your behalf or to simply get paid for the work you have already done. A tremendous amount of faith is normally put into the contents of these documents when it probably shouldn't be.

A certificate of insurance (COI) is similar to an auto liability ID card in that its purpose is to show evidence of coverage. The certificate itself does nothing to increase, decrease or add coverage to the policy it is referencing. With that said, the information contained within the COI is useless if the policy does not provide the coverage.

A COI is often required as a result of a contractual agreement a company enters into. The agreement may be to perform a specific job and/or duties or to cover a larger scope of ongoing work. Sometimes these contracts attempt to transfer risks and exposures that are predominantly not insurable which are not reflected by the COI. It is highly recommended that you have the terms and conditions of these agreements reviewed by your attorney prior to executing them. Your insurance agent can advise you on what requirements may be difficult or even impossible to insure. That in mind, having your agent review these contracts in conjunction with your attorney would probably be very beneficial. Simply sending a COI and thinking everything is okay if it doesn't get rejected is not the best way to protect your interest/assets.

Some coverage's are triggered as a result of a requirement in a written contract. You've probably heard of "Blanket Additional Insured As Required By Written Contract" or " Blanket Waiver Of Subrogation as Required By Written Contract". These endorsements are convenient and can provide ease of doing business when used properly. They do, however, only provide coverage as required by the terms and conditions of the written agreement. That said, adding this wording to a COI in the absence of a written contract may create coverage deficiencies for all parties involved.

There are many other elements of coverage evidenced in a COI which may not represent a clear picture of the actual coverage provided. Some examples include products/completed operations provided to the Additional Insured, Primary and Non-Contributory language as well as whether or not contractual exposures are actually covered by the policy.

If you are concerned about a COI you have received from a company providing services on your behalf, it would be in your best interest to ask for a complete copy of the insurance policy in question. Your attorney, along with your insurance agent should be able to review the documents and confirm that adequate coverage does exist.

We welcome any questions you may have regarding the above information. You can contact me at 281.570.2000 or visit our website at

This article was provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered in any way as legal advice.
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