News | | Everything You Need to Know About Certificates of Insurance

Everything You Need to Know About Certificates of Insurance

people looking over insurance policy


If you write commercial policies for business liability, workers’ compensation, business fleets, or construction, you know the importance of quickly issuing certificates of insurance. Sometimes called insurance certificates or COIs, these documents allow businesses to prove their insurance policy meets the needs of any contracting partners, government organizations, and internal stakeholders. 

Have questions about certificate issuance? Read on to get answers about issuing, storing, and tracking insurance certificates.

What do insurance certificates need to include?

A certificate of insurance is a document that contains all the essential details of an insurance policy on a single form, including:

  • Policyholder’s Name
  • Policy Effective Date
  • Type of Coverage
  • Policy Limits

When is a certificate of insurance required? 

A certificate of insurance is required any time proof of insurance is needed. You should plan to issue a certificate of insurance whenever you write a new policy, renew a policy, or make significant changes. As an agency, it is your responsibility to make sure that your policyholders have up-to-date copies of their insurance certificates and that carriers have an accurate certificate of insurance on file, whether they require it or not.

You will also likely be asked to issue certificates of insurance to other businesses and government entities on behalf of your clients. The purpose might be to prove compliance with state and local requirements for insurance or to help your client provide proof of insurance to another business at the start of a subcontractor or partner relationship. 

A valid certificate of insurance is also particularly important for manufacturing, construction, and transportation businesses at the start of new contracts, as they let the end client know that your client holds valid liability insurance for their business activities. 

How long does it take to issue an insurance certificate? 

When working within traditional processes, certificate issuance can be slow and highly manual. Depending on the resources your agency has available for certificate issuance, it may take anywhere from 48 hours to several weeks to issue an insurance certificate. 

However, insurance technology has evolved to offer a secure, automated certificate of insurance issuance through cloud-based platforms such as CertVault. Once you write an insurance certificate, you can upload it to the CertVault platform for instant access by all approved stakeholders. This reduces the time it takes for your clients to get the proof of insurance they need to conduct business.

How long should certificates of insurance be stored? 

Generally speaking, certificates of insurance should be kept for five years at a minimum, but this might vary depending on your local regulations. This helps ensure that all compliance requirements are met in the event of an audit or legal questions down the line. 

Given the wide differences in the types of insurance certificates issued, it’s imperative that organizations and those responsible securely store certificates of insurance for ongoing review. Using a cloud-based platform like CertVault not only reduces the time it takes to issue certificates, but also allows you to store them for long periods of time without taking up physical space used by paper storage. Certificates can be stored and maintained for years to come. 

What security concerns are involved with certificates of insurance?

Business owners are concerned with running their business. They’re rarely concerned with providing an accurate certificate of insurance if they can’t get it quickly. That can lead to problematic requests, such as a request for a blank certificate so the client can then provide proof of insurance on their own, or providing copies of old certificates on their own without asking your agency to issue the certificates appropriately. 

Certificates of insurance also require specific compliance standards. To help your clients, ensure that their insurance fully complies with local regulations and contract requirements. If something does happen on a job site, the inability to push claims due to COI non-compliance could be devastating. 

When using a system such as CertVault, you can eliminate these potential security and compliance issues with quick issuance and blockchain technology to prevent data within the certificate from being altered. If a certificate needs to be reissued to meet new compliance requirements, the process is quick and simple. Within CertVault you can also maintain a legacy version history to ensure that your clients maintain full compliance over time. 

Reconsidering how your agency issues certificates

If you want to improve the way your agency works with commercial clients and offer quicker, more secure service, take a hard look at your tools and processes. Using a secure cloud-based system for certificate issuance and storage allows you and your clients to work more quickly to issue certificates that meet contract requirements and local business regulations. 

CertVault by Patra is a cloud-based certificate repository and delivery system that can be accessed by any party or organization that needs an insurance certificate, designed with all insurance stakeholders in mind. It is uniquely suited for agencies that issue a high volume of certificates, as well as those with a number of clients who require frequent certificate issuance. Contact us to learn more about how CertVault can help your insurance business with certificates.