Q: What is a Certificate of Insurance, and should I request one?  

A: A Certificate of Insurance (COI) helps an organization show proof of its insurance coverage to a third party. The document shows a “bird’s eye view” of the policy details, including its status, effective date, expiration date, coverages, and limits.

How do I obtain a Certificate of Insurance?

You might be asked to provide a Certificate of Insurance to a third party in various circumstances, such as entering into a contract. This type of request is not unusual. If your organization needs to provide a Certificate of Insurance, you can request one from your insurance agent or carrier – typically for free. The insurance company will usually send the certificate to the policyholder so that you can pass it on to the requesting party.

When should I ask for one?

It’s a good idea to request a Certificate of Insurance from a third-party organization when you’re entering into a contract with them or leasing your facilities to them. There are a couple of reasons why.

First, to protect your ministry, you’ll want to ensure that the other organization maintains appropriate liability insurance coverage before moving forward. You may also want to ask the other party to add your ministry as an additional insured (see below). A Certificate of Insurance will verify the right coverage is in place and show your ministry’s status as an additional insured.

Second, many contracts contain indemnification clauses that require one or both parties to assume the burden of liability in the event of an injury or loss. It’s usually a good practice to add this language into a contract you’re drafting. But if the other party doesn’t have adequate liability coverage, the protection provided by the indemnification clause lacks financial backing.

When you receive a Certificate of Insurance from another party, it’s best to double-check the details to confirm it’s legitimate. Check the names of the carrier and insured, coverages and limits, expiration dates, and other details.

What is an Additional Insured?

Some contracts may require a party to add the other party as an “additional insured.” This endorsement generally extends your general liability coverage to the other party if it is held liable for the acts of your ministry (or someone acting on your ministry’s behalf). It does not grant the other party the rights and privileges of a policyholder, such as canceling, renewing, or changing the policy.

When another party asks for a Certificate of Insurance, they may also request to be named as an additional insured. Your current insurance agent or carrier can help you take this step.

More Questions?

Do you have a question that wasn’t covered in this article? Submit your question to Brotherhood Mutual’s Legal Assist team.

Posted June 2020

This information is intended to be helpful. However, it is not legal advice, and reading it does not create an attorney/client relationship. Every circumstance is different, and an organization's rights and obligations vary by jurisdiction. That's why we strongly encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program. 

The information is accurate as of the date of publication; however, changes in law or regulation over time may affect the accuracy of the information presented.