Every small business owner, startup, independent contractor, and entrepreneur must have a business insurance policy to safeguard their finances and protect their companies and professions from liability risks.  

But how do you prove you are insured if you must when forging a new partnership or signing a contract with a customer?

The answer is you need a certificate of liability insurance (COI).

Also referred to as a proof of insurance document, a COI is like an identification card. It is a one-page digital document that summarizes your business insurance coverage.  


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What Information Does a Certificate of Insurance Have?

Your licensed Zensurance broker can quickly provide you with a COI after purchasing a policy. A typical COI includes the following information:

  • The name of the brokerage and its address that issued the COI
  • The name of your insurance company
  • Your name and the address of your small business or the organization that names you as an additional insured to their policy
  • Your insurance policy number and its expiration date
  • A description of the coverages on your policy

You can also add an additional insured to your policy and COI if required (an additional insured is a person or organization you add to your policy that extends your coverage to them. For example, your commercial property landlord).

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Why Do You Need a Certificate of Insurance?

There are many reasons why you may need a COI.

For example, a general contractor needs a COI when submitting a proposal or bidding on a contract to a partner or customer to do work for them. Or, if you’re doing work or hosting an event at another venue or property that is not your own, you may be asked by that property owner to verify you are insured. Furthermore, it can give you an edge over competitors vying to win a contract or new business. 

Think of it this way: it’s proof that you can cover the cost of a liability claim should the unexpected happen where an employee, customer, or another entity gets hurt or suffers a financial loss because of what you do.

What Kinds of Small Businesses or Self-Employed Professionals Need a Certificate of Insurance?

Whether you are an independent contractor, a caterer, or an accountant who manages finances for other businesses or individuals, it is wise to have a COI on hand to provide any partners or customers upon request.

It comes down to your and your customers’ needs. In general, any small business or independent professional providing a service with the potential for liability losses may be asked to provide a COI.

Also, if you request to see a COI from a third party, it’s worthwhile to contact the brokerage that issued the document to verify that all the details are correct and the policy is valid.

Is a Certificate of Insurance the Same as a Business Insurance Policy?

No, a COI differs from a formal business insurance contract between you and an insurance company. It is a one-page document that proves you are insured should you need to provide it to a partner, customer, or financial institution.

Do You Have the Right Type of Insurance to Protect Your Small Business?

Business insurance policies are typically one-year contracts between business owners and insurance companies. They must be renewed annually to ensure continuous coverage. 

But a lot can change in 12 months. That’s why it’s vital to work with a licensed insurance broker who can serve as your trusted advisor, review your liability risks and existing coverage, recommend ways to enhance your coverage if necessary and reduce the liability risks you may face.

Getting Insured Is Quick and Easy With Zensurance

Whether your policy is due for renewal, you’re considering switching to another insurance provider, or you’re seeking a small business insurance policy for the first time, get a free quote from Zensurance and let our licensed brokers do the shopping for you. 

Our friendly broker team strives to find our customers the low-cost protection they need from our partner network of over 50 insurance providers and will customize the policy to suit your requirements.

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About the Author: Brandon Bowie

Brandon Bowie is a Team Lead, Professional Lines at Zensurance.