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Certificate Of Insurance

If your business involves interstate trucking or intrastate transportation, you may be asked to produce a certificate of insurance documenting the type of auto insurance coverage you have on your commercial vehicle. Although a certificate of insurance is not legally considered proof of insurance, this document is often required by companies that require the use of commercial vehicles.

For example, many universities require that companies they do business with provide a certificate of insurance before beginning work. The certificate helps ensure that the university won't be held liable if the trucking company is involved in an accident.

What Is a Certificate of Insurance?

A certificate of insurance (COI) is a document issued by your commercial auto insurance company or broker to verify the existence of existing insurance coverage. The document may contain:

  • The insurance agent's:
    • Name.
    • Address.
    • Phone number.
  • The insurance company's name.
  • Your policy number.
  • The type of commercial insurance coverage purchased.
  • Effective start and end date of the policy.
  • The types and dollar amount of applicable liability insurance for bodily injury and personal property damage.
  • Signature of the issuing insurance agent.
  • Date the certificate was prepared.

In interstate trucking or intrastate transportation, a certificate of insurance is required because of the potential for large losses if a driver or business owner is held legally liable for an accident. Because of their size and the potentially valuable cargo they may be carrying, accidents involving commercial vehicles tend to have higher costs than those involving a personal car or truck.

A certificate of insurance is not a valid insurance policy nor can it change the details of your commercial auto insurance policy. It is simply a statement of what coverages were included in your policy at the time the certificate was issued.

When Is a Certificate of Insurance Needed?

You may need a certificate of insurance to:

  • Comply with federal, state, or local regulations regarding commercial auto insurance.
  • Enter into lease or rental agreements for commercial vehicles.
  • Hire temporary workers to drive commercial vehicles.
  • Operate oversized vehicles.

Typically, a certificate of insurance is requested to verify your liability commercial auto insurance. If you are transporting goods, you may also be asked to provide your client with a certificate of cargo insurance.

If you are asked to provide a certificate of insurance, you should contact your commercial auto insurance company for assistance. Your agent may ask for the following information to prepare the document:

  • "Doing Business As" (DBA) name.
  • Social Security number.
  • Business address and phone number.
  • Docket number.
  • Department of Transportation number.

The time required to process a certificate of insurance request varies from company to company. However, if your insurance company uses an automated system, you may be able to obtain a certificate of insurance in as little as 48 hours.

NOTE: Certificates of insurance are not limited to commercial auto insurance. Construction projects commonly see the exchange of certificates of insurance from subcontractors to contractors that are specifically geared towards the type of work that is being done.

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