A certificate of insurance is evidence that an insurance contract is in effect. It is helpful when proof of appropriate insurance is required but a copy of the person's insurance policy cannot be obtained. You are responsible for requesting the correct information on the certificate. To avoid getting a generic certificate of insurance that does not show the insured's necessary coverage or the acceptable policy wording, request specifically what you need.
Contact the proper insurance company or agent. Some people have insurance coverages with more than one insurance company. For example, they may have their auto policy with one company and homeowner’s policy with another company. Make sure you are requesting the right coverage from the correct insurance company.
Confirm the named insured. When requesting a certificate of insurance confirm the name of the policyholder is the same name for which you are requesting a certificate of insurance. This is especially important when requesting a certificate on a commercial policy. Having a certificate for ABC Co., Inc., for example, will do no good if you need a certificate for ABC & Sons, Inc.
Define your interests. Insurance agents will not issue a certificate of insurance unless there is an expressed or implied contract between the certificate holder and the insured. When making a certificate request, explain to the insurance agent the nature of the relationship. An automobile leasing company will have little interest in a driver’s workers compensation policy. By explaining to the agent that you are financing the policy holder’s vehicle you’ll get the certificate of insurance that evidences automobile coverage.
Explain minimum limits required. Business contracts often express the minimum amount of coverage required to comply with the agreement. You must convey that information to the insurance agent when requesting the insurance certificate. If your contract states the minimum limit of liability should be $300,000 and the certificate is issued with a limit of $100,000, you will have to request additional coverage or advise the insured that he is not complying with the terms of the contract.
Provide the correct certificate holder information. Besides having the correct spelling of the certificate holder's name, make sure you provide the correct address. The address listed on the certificate is the same address to which the insurance company will send a notice of cancellation if the insured cancels or does not renew the policy. You want to make sure you receive such notifications.
Take time to review the certificate to make sure it lists all of the coverages you requested.