Certificate of Liability Insurance: What It Is, How to Get One

You need a general liability insurance policy in order to get a certificate of liability insurance.

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A certificate of liability insurance is a document proving that your business has general liability insurance or other types of liability coverage. It tells customers and potential business partners that your company is insured against claims of property damage, bodily injury or other harms.

To get a certificate of liability insurance, you’ll first need to have a business insurance policy. Almost all businesses should have general liability insurance.

You can also request a certificate of liability from vendors you plan to work with to verify their coverage.

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What does a certificate of liability insurance include?

A certificate of liability insurance includes:

  • Your insurer’s name and your policy numbers.

  • Policy effective dates.

  • Policy limits.

  • The names of the insured parties.

The form should include information from your general liability insurance policy. If you have other types of liability protection — like commercial auto insurance, workers’ compensation insurance and excess liability insurance — your certificate of liability insurance may show those policy details, too.

You should be able to access certificates of insurance for all of your business insurance policies. In general, these documents include the same types of information that certificates of liability insurance do, like your insurance company’s name, your policy numbers, coverage limits and the names of additional insureds.

How can you get a certificate of liability insurance?

Follow these steps to get a certificate of liability insurance:

  1. Get general liability insurance. You can shop for business insurance online or look for a business insurance agent near you.

  2. See if you can access your COI online. Many business insurance companies let you access your COI for free through an online dashboard. Next Insurance, for instance, lets you pull up your COI on your computer or phone and share it electronically with others. With Hiscox, you can enter your policy number and email address and generate a copy.

  3. Request a copy of your COI through your insurer if necessary. In some cases you may need to fill out an online form or send an email to your insurance company to get a copy of your COI. The Hartford, for example, asks customers to log on to their online account or contact their agent or the insurer directly to request a COI. However, the company says many customers receive their certificate of liability insurance instantly.

Does your business need a certificate of liability insurance?

Some businesses have to show certificates of liability insurance often. For instance, if you’re buying cleaning business insurance or contractor insurance, make sure you know how to access your certificate of liability insurance online so you can provide it to clients or contractors upon request.

Other times you may need to show a certificate of liability insurance include:

How much does a certificate of liability insurance cost?

In general, business insurance providers offer certificates of liability insurance for free to existing policyholders.

You will need to purchase a policy to have access to a COI, and the cost of business insurance can vary widely depending on what your company does, how many employees you have, whether you’ve filed claims in the past and other factors. Getting quotes from several different insurance companies can help you find the best coverage at the best price.

How long does it take to get a certificate of liability insurance?

If you have a business liability insurance policy, you may already have a certificate of liability insurance in your policy paperwork.

Some providers, including biBERK and Thimble, offer instant digital certificates of insurance that you can share electronically with your landlord, clients or subcontractors.

Other business insurance providers require you to request a copy online or over the phone, but they should typically be able to provide your COI in a matter of hours.