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    Insurance 101: What Is a Certificate of Insurance?

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    what is a certificate of insurance

    Having a certificate of insurance readily available or on display can show prospective clients that you’re running a trustworthy business.

    Most businesses are more comfortable working with contractors and third-party members if they can prove that they’re insured. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean having to carry around your whole policy to show potential clients that you have sufficient, up-to-date insurance.

    Instead, businesses can request a certificate of insurance (COI) from their brokerage or insurance company. This small, handy piece of paper contains all the pertinent information at a quick glance.In this article, we’ll be looking at some common questions about these important proof-of-insurance forms, such as:

    • What is a certificate of insurance?

    • Who needs a certificate of insurance?

    • What should I do if a client requests a COI?

    • How long is a certificate of insurance good for?

    Let’s get started!


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    What is a certificate of insurance?

    A certificate of insurance is a document used to show prospective clients that you have a licensed insurance policy, providing them with peace of mind in the event of something going wrong during your working relationship.

    A good COI will contain information such as:

    • Brokerage details: The contact information, name, and address of the brokerage that issued the certificate.

    • Insured business: The name of the insured company.

    • Insurance company: The name of the insurance company providing coverage.

    • Policy information: The details of your insurance policy, such as the policy number, the starting and expiration date of the policy, and the limit of liability.

    One important thing to note is that a certificate of insurance is not the policy itself — it just provides proof of insurance and is used for information purposes only.

    Who needs a certificate of insurance?

    Just as nearly every profession requires an insurance policy, anyone with coverage should have a certificate on hand.

    Whether it’s teaching an outdoor yoga class, building a website, or starting a plumbing business, it’s a good idea for any large or small business owner to be able to show their insurance status, proving that they have the coverage to handle a claim.

    Related read: Why Yoga Instructors Need Insurance

    Pro tip:

    In many cases, offering up your certificate of insurance when bidding for a job or submitting proposals can be a great way to make your business stand out above the competition. It also means your prospective clients won’t have to request a certificate from you later on.


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    What should I do if a client requests a COI?

    If you’re asked for proof of insurance, all you have to do is reach out to your insurance broker and ask them to provide you with the document, so you can share it with your client.

    If your client prefers, they can also reach out directly to your insurance provider to request your COI.

    How long is a certificate of insurance good for?

    A certificate of insurance generally lasts for around five years, although it’s a good idea to check with your insurance provider so you know just how long yours will last. Some policies will also be designed to cover a much shorter period — for example, if you’re insuring a space for a one-time fitness class.

    No matter the length of time your certificate of liability insurance covers, it’s a good idea for certificate holders to keep and file documents like these in case complications arise in the future.

    APOLLO is Canada’s leading digital insurance provider, offering personal and business policies, so you can run your company with peace of mind. Use our free online application to start this simple process and get insured in just 15 short minutes.


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    Originally published October 10, 2022, updated August 25, 2023

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