What is a Certificate of Insurance (COI)
& why do I need one?

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Certificate of Insurance

A Certificate of Insurance (COI) is a physical or electronic document that provides proof to your clients or business partners that you have a valid, active insurance policy.

What is a COI?

A COI is issued by your insurer, and is typically included in the package of documents you receive upon purchasing your policy. This one-page document summarizes the key details of your business insurance policy, including:

  • Your legal name and business information
  • The insurer who issued your policy
  • The policy number, effective date, and expiration date
  • The type of coverage included (e.g. professional liability or general liability)
  • Insurance limits and deductibles in dollar amounts
  • Additional Insureds
  • What is an ACORD 25 form?

    An ACORD certificate is a certificate of insurance.

    Most Certificates of Insurance use a template developed by the Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development (ACORD). This is why you’ll often hear a COI referred to as an ACORD certificate or ACORD 25 form.

    Why do I need to show proof of liability insurance?

    COIs are expected in any business situation where there’s a potential for liability or loss.

    An ACORD certificate of insurance is important because, quite simply, it gives small business owners and contractors the confidence that they’re protected by insurance, and in turn, their clients have protection as well.

    It’s the document that provides others with proof that you have business liability insurance for claims of bodily injury, property damage, or negligence, depending on your policy.

    “A COI provides proof that you have business insurance and are protected against claims of bodily injury, property damage and/or negligence.”

    – Terri Hitchcock, Chief Insurance Officer

    Many companies and individuals may also require you to provide a COI before signing a contract, for the same reason: if something goes wrong, they want to rest assured that they won’t foot the bill or make a claim under their own insurance policies.

    For example, if you’re a handyman coming to work on a project at your client’s workplace, they’ll want to know they won’t be found at fault if someone is injured due to an accident that results from the work you are doing for them. Likewise, if some of your equipment crashes through a window and causes property damage, they’ll want to know that you have the coverage to pay for that.

    What are the benefits of a COI?

    The benefits of COIs extend to other types of businesses as well, including small business owners, freelancers, and solopreneurs. For example, if you’re an IT consultant who provides web development or monitoring services, your clients want to know that they’re protected from potential losses due to site downtime or a server crash. Your COI can put their minds at ease.

    Basically, if there’s potential for something to go wrong during the course of your work with a client—whether that “something” is physical injury, property damage, or another type of loss—you’ll want to get an insurance policy (and the COI to prove it).

    Almost all businesses hiring contractors will require that the contractor provide them with a COI. While less expected with other transactions, such as between service businesses, pre-empting the ask and providing your prospective client with a COI during the sales process can do much to net their trust and earn their business. It’s a clear indicator that you take your business seriously, and establishes your professionalism.

    In fact, it’s a common practice for clients to ask to be added as an Additional Insured to your policy, to ensure they’re fully covered for any damage you may cause.

    How much does a Certificate of Insurance cost?

    There is no cost to a COI as it’s not a type of insurance coverage, merely proof of insurance.

    However, costs can come into play with Additional Insureds. These costs vary by the type of Additional Insured and from company to company.

    How to get a Certificate of Insurance?

    It’s pretty simple: purchase an insurance policy. Once you’ve purchased a policy, you’ll receive your COI, usually a PDF that is mailed or emailed to you.

    Usually you’d have to wait a few days for a broker to send it to you But with Thimble, you get your COI instantly. When you purchase a Thimble policy, your proof of insurance appears immediately in your inbox.

    Can I share my COI?

    Yes! Often, you have to contact your broker or insurance agent and request they share your COI. This can take time, and if you need to show proof of insurance to win a gig, you need to share your COI at a moment’s notice.

    With Thimble, it’s easy to share your COI with clients—quickly share it using the Thimble app, or email or text it using your phone’s built-in sharing functions (the same way you’d share a photo on the go). There is no limit to the number of copies you can share—all for free.

    The content on this page has been verified by
    Terri Hitchcock, JD
    Chief Insurance Officer, Thimble
    Terri has 38 years of industry experience and knows a thing or two about insurance, so she reviewed and approved everything on this page.

    How do I get business insurance?

    Get a quote from Thimble in less than 60 seconds and get your Certificate of Insurance instantly.