Basics for Reviewing a Certificate Basics for Reviewing a Certificate

Basics for Reviewing a Certificate

Certificates are used to provide proof that insurance coverage is in place. Before someone accepts a certificate of insurance, it is important to understand the basic information that is shared on the document so that they can compare the contract requirements to the information being provided. In this article we will review the different sections of the document and what they mean.

Note: This is just a guide to help you make informed decisions, it is best to review questions with your insurance agent so they can provide their expertise when it comes to coverages that are or are not in place. 

Related Article: How to Review a Document

See image below to help you navigate to the desired section:


Section 1: General Information


1. Date Issued

  • It is a good practice to check the date a certificate was issued. If the document date is missing or suspiciously older than the effective date of the coverage, this could be an indicator of a fraudulent document.



2. General Disclaimer

  • This general disclaimer lets certificate holders know the following:
    • The certificate holder has no legal right to be covered by the insurance listed.
    • The only terms and conditions applicable are those stated on the policy endorsements.
    • The Certificate does not legally change policy coverage.


3. Notice to Additional Insureds

  • Similar to the previous disclaimer, this notice advises to verify coverage via the policy endorsements, but more specifically for the additional insured status and in the event of a waiver of subrogation endorsement.
    • Additional Insured: If the policy has an additional insured endorsement for the certificate holder, the insurance company will defend and indemnify the certificate holder for claims made against them as a result of the named insured's negligence.
    • Waiver of Subrogation: If the policy has a waiver of subrogation endorsement in favor of the certificate holder, the insurance company will not prosecute the certificate holder if their insured suffers a claim or loss as a result of the acts or negligence of the certificate holder.


4. Producer/Agency Information

  • This is the agent or agency who wrote the policy for the named insured on behalf of the insurance carrier. It is a good practice to confirm this is where the insurance certificate came from, since in most cases the agency will complete the certificate on behalf of the insurance carrier.



5. Named Insured Information

  • The Named Insured is who the policy was written for. It is important to check that the Named Insured and who you are requesting the certificate from match. If the information does not match, it is best to reach out to your contact to clarify why the information does not match.



6. Producer/Agency Contact Information

  • This is going to be your main point of contact for any questions related to the Named Insured's certificate or coverages if working directly with the producer. Although this is not always filled out, this directs you to whom at the agency can help you obtain the information desired.



7. Companies Affording Insurance Coverage

  • This information tells you who the insurance carriers are. To see which policies are written with what company, simply compare the letter in the coverages section to the Insurer A-F fields.
    Note: Each policy could potentially be written with different companies thus is why it is important to verify ALL the carriers affording coverage are positively rated.
  • TrustLayer pulls the A.M. Best score and financial rating from the NAIC number field. This allows you to quickly confirm that the Named Insured has adequate coverage without a lot of research.



Section 2: Policy Information




  • This column will allow you to identify which insurance carrier is providing coverage for each policy. 
    • For example: If the Letter next to the Coverage is A, you would know that Insurer A is affording coverage to this policy. TrustLayer will pull this information for you so you can validate each policy is providing you with adequate coverage per your contract requirements.


2. Types of Insurance

  • This section of the certificate will allow you to identify the lines of coverage being provided. If the coverage is not provided, the section would be left blank. 
    • Some Insureds have to provide multiple certificates due to working with multiple agents. If the coverage is desired but not listed, It is recommended you reach out to the insured to locate the policy coverage likely listed with a different agent.
      • If multiple certificates are provided, TrustLayer will compile this information for you. Simply review the sections provided on each certificate received and the system will show everything provided on the party's profile. Then if something is still missing, you can send a request for more information.
  • TrustLayer will be able to pull most of this information, however it is always best to review to ensure no mistakes were made.
  • There are 4 main sections in this field: General Liability, Automobile Liability, Excess Liability/Umbrella Liability, and Workers Compensation/Employers Liability
    • General Liability covers the Insured’s liability arising out of the insured’s premises or operations, products and completed operations.
      • If the contract specifies if the policy should be on a Claims Made or Occurrence Form, be sure the appropriate box is selected.
      • The General Aggregate Limit can apply differently depending on how the Applies per section is completed. If the contract states who it should be listed, make sure the appropriate box is selected: Policy, Project, Loc, or Other. mceclip10.png
    • Automobile Liability is provided for protection from liability arising out of negligent operation, maintenance or use of a covered auto, which results in bodily injury or property damage to a third party. 
      • If the contract requires certain types of autos to be covered under this policy, be sure the boxes regarding that auto type is marked. A common requirement would be Hired Auto Coverage. In this example, we would want to make sure the Hired Auto box is selected.
        Note: If Any Auto is selected, coverage for all auto types is provided.mceclip11.png
    • The Excess Liability/Umbrella Liability section will advise what type of policy is being provided by marking the box next to the type.
      • Excess Liability insurance usually provides additional coverage only for the Named Insured's General Liability insurance
      • Umbrella Liability covers excess over multiple lines of insurance, including General Liability, Auto, and Employers Liability (found in the Worker’s Compensation coverage).


    • Workers Compensation/ Employers Liability
      • Workers Compensation is coverage that pays for the Insured’s employees’ medical expenses and lost wages because of injuries or diseases sustained in the course and scope of their employment.
      • Employers Liability is used to cover liability actions brought by an employee that the Insured is contractually liable for.
      • Any Proprietor/Partners/Executive Officers/Member Excluded (below): This statement verifies whether or not the insured's owners and officers are covered under their Workers Compensation policy. If there are any excluded parties, it is recommended to review with your agent to determine if this is acceptable.


3. Additional Insured/Waiver of Subrogation

  • This section of a certificate will advise if an additional insured or waiver of subrogation endorsement applies to the certificate holder and on what coverages the endorsement is applicable. There can be a mark in all, one, or none of the boxes and is a reflection of what the policy states.
  • Endorsement Coverages are as follows:
    Note: It is always recommended to speak with your agent to see what coverages you should be requiring of your parties and if particular forms should be requested.
    • Additional Insured: If the policy has an additional insured endorsement for the certificate holder, the insurance company will defend and indemnify the certificate holder for claims made against them as a result of the Named Insured's negligence.
    • Waiver of Subrogation: If the policy has a waiver of subrogation endorsement in favor of the certificate holder, the insurance company will not prosecute the certificate holder if their insured suffers a claim or loss as a result of the acts or negligence of the certificate holder.


4.  Policy Number

  • This section of the certificate is to provide the certificate holder with the policy number associated with the insurance policy provided by the insurance carrier. This can be used to confirm coverage with the agent or carrier as desired.
  • If this field is left blank, this could potentially be a red flag when reviewing the document. 


5.  Policy Effective and Expiration Dates

  • This section provides you with the time period in which the coverage is being provided. Policy Effective Date being when the policy starts and the Policy Expiration Date when coverage ends. TrustLayer will help you identify expiring or expired certificates based on these dates by providing a visual identifier to make the information stand out. 


6. Limits

  • In this section, you can identify the limits of insurance per each designated coverage. TrustLayer will help pull these limits into your checklist, so you can quickly compare your contract requirements and the policy limits provided.mceclip3.png
  • On the Workers Compensation section (below) the Statutory Limits box indicates that the benefits meet the coverage requirements for the state in which the injury occurs. If the Other box is checked, it is best to review with your agent to see if the coverage is adequate.



Section 3: Description of Operations


  • The Description of Operations section of the certificate is where you can look for additional coverages not represented in the coverages listed previously on the document. This freeform section is where special wording or requirements can also be listed expanding on what endorsements could be on the policy. Some common examples that could be listed in this section are:
    • Primary Non-Contributory Endorsement
    • Project Number or Name
    • 30 Day Notice of Cancellation
    • Ongoing Operations Endorsement
    • Completed Operations Endorsement

Section 4: Certificate Holder/Cancellation Notice/Authorized Signature



1. Certificate Holder

  • The Certificate Holder is who the document is being presented to. Here is where we want to verify the correct entity is listed for who the party is in contract with. 


2. Cancellation Notice

  • The Cancellation Notice section advises that if the policy is endorsed to notify an individual upon cancellation, then the insurance carrier will notify them accordingly. This is another notice that directs companies to the insured's policy to obtain copies of the endorsements, since this notice cannot confirm that a cancellation notification will be sent to those interested in the policy.


3. Authorized Representative

  • The Authorized Representative box indicates the insurance carrier representative or agency producer who has been authorized to sign the Certificate. In most, not all, cases this information will reflect the agency contact included in the beginning of the document.




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