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Wondering why you are struggling to bring on more clients, or why contractors don’t want to work with you? It could be because you don’t have a certificate of liability insurance (COI).

It’s not enough to tell prospective clients that you’re trustworthy. It’s not enough to have insurance. You must also have a certificate on hand to meet most contracts’ requirements.

Follow this guide to make sure your business is covered—and that you can prove it!

What Good is Insurance Without a Certificate?

Small businesses carry a lot of risk, but are also trying to land new contracts to help them grow. For this reason, having insurance is a must! Here are a few types you should consider purchasing:

Once you secure your insurance, make sure you ask for a certificate of liability insurance. It’s simply a one-page description verifying the type of insurance you have and the coverage it provides, including limits, expiration dates, effective dates, and policy numbers. Without this piece of paper, your business associates may question your coverage.

When Does Your Business Need a COI?

So you made the leap and decided to protect your small business by buying some insurance, and now you are as good as gold, right?


You need a certificate of insurance, also called an ACORD. Having one is especially important for small business owners. You are trying to build your reputation, your credibility, and secure more business.

The best way to do this is by being able to show that you are knowledgeable about eliminating risk. New clients and contractors will want to see this before they sign on to work with you. Plus, you should want to see a subcontractor’s COI every time you strike a new business deal.

When the Client Asks to Be Included

If you thought that all you had to do to secure new business contracts was to show them your certificate of liability insurance, you could be wrong. Not only do they want to see proof of the insurance coverage, but sometimes they ask to be listed on your certificate.

When clients asked to be named as a certificate holder, they are essentially wanting to be on the policy so if you are cancelled for any reason, the client listed would be notified. This gives them the security they need to feel comfortable working with your business.

Plus, in the event of an accident, there is no question about who is covered.

When Your Insurer Wants COIs

Insurance companies are smart, and they want to make sure that the businesses they are insuring are also making ethical business decisions. They will not want you hiring subcontractors who do not have certificates.

Sometimes your insurance company will request this piece of paper from the subcontractor‘s insurer. They might even audit your business and request all certificates. For that reason, you need to make sure you are requesting certificates when making business deals. If they find you don’t have all the proper certificates for subcontractors or are using uninsured contractors, they could potentially raise your insurance rates—or they could drop you!

And because fraud is something your business wants to avoid, instead of printing off the certificate yourself to give to the client requesting, call your insurance agency and have them fax over a copy. When you need theirs, make sure you are requesting one from their insurance as well instead of taking a copy from them. This will make sure no fraud is being committed.