A certificate of liability insurance is an insurance policy's proof of purchase. In order to get one, you must buy a small business liability insurance policy. After the policy is issued, most certificates of insurance are available online.
A client may request a certificate of insurance in the terms of a contract. In some cases, your liability insurance can protect your clients against potential losses and damages caused by your business.
Example: A computer repair business has a long-term contract with a local company. If a technician accidentally drops a client’s laptop during a repair, the computer repair company’s general liability policy covers the cost of replacing the broken laptop.
You may need a certificate of liability insurance to sign a lease for a new office, storefront, or other commercial space.
Example: Your accounting firm recently purchased general liability insurance to fulfill the terms of its new commercial lease. A client trips on your new office’s front steps and sues over his injury; his legal fees are covered by your general liability policy, protecting your landlord.
Businesses that hire contractors often want reassurance they will not be held responsible if the contractor makes a mistake. If the contractor has liability insurance, financial losses or damages that occur as a result of the contractor’s work are typically covered – without involving the business that hired the contractor.
Example: A construction company hires an independent contractor to install windows in an office. The completed windows don’t match the specifications outlined in the contract, resulting in thousands of dollars of overages. If the construction company required the contractor to obtain liability insurance, the cost of replacing the windows would be covered.
Establishing a business reputation is hard work, especially when you’re just starting out. Liability insurance shows potential clients that your business can withstand common accidents and lawsuits, which increases your dependability.
Example: An accountant who is new to the industry offers tax preparation services to a potential client. Because the accountant has professional liability insurance, the client knows that losses will be covered if a mistake is made. The accountant gets the contract, even though his reputation is not established.
Liability insurance does not provide coverage to replace or repair your business property. Commercial property insurance can help pay for business property when it's stolen or damaged by fire, a burst pipe, or a covered weather event.
Example: A frozen pipe bursts at a real estate agent’s office. Several computers are destroyed, and water damage has ruined the floor. Commercial property insurance helps cover the cost of replacing the destroyed computers and installing a new floor.
When a storm, fire, or other event forces your business to close temporarily, business interruption insurance can help you recover. This policy covers lost revenue, day-to-day operating expenses, and other costs until your business can reopen. It’s often included in property insurance or a business owner’s policy.
Example: A fire destroys the kitchen at your restaurant. Business interruption insurance pays your employees’ wages, rent on the building, and your lost income until you are able to reopen.
Some providers take weeks to mail a certificate of insurance. That’s a big problem for a contractor who needs immediate proof of insurance. With Insureon, most businesses (about 80%) can receive a certificate of insurance within a couple of hours of starting our application. Businesses that are more difficult to insure can usually get their certificate within 48 hours.
Complete Insureon’s free online application, which asks for details about your business. It takes only a few minutes to complete. You’ll receive quotes from top-rated U.S. carriers when you finish the application.
Compare your quotes and choose a policy that provides your desired amount of protection and fulfills the requirements of your commercial lease or client contract. At this point, you can chat with a licensed Insureon agent to make sure the policy contains everything you need.
Pay for your policy or sign up for a payment plan. After the policy is issued, you can download a certificate of insurance. The certificate will include:
View a sample ACORD 25 form: certificate of liability insurance [PDF].
A certificate of insurance is free. Much like a receipt, the document is proof that you’ve paid for a policy and you’re insured.
The cost of the policy depends on the type of insurance, your policy limits, and business factors, such as revenue and number of employees. Read our small business insurance cost analysis for details about insurance costs.