As insurance agents we hear it all the time; are certificates really that important? If my subs’ certificates aren’t current, am I on the hook for what their policies don’t cover? What about exclusions on my policy? Maybe a hypothetical claim will help provide some answers. Let’s say you contract with a roofer. He’s not the roofer you usually work with but, he has a good reputation and he gives you a certificate of insurance that shows he has his own General Liability policy. It has the same limits as your policy with the RWC Insurance Advantage. No worries here. His policy will respond first to injuries or damage to others that he might cause while working on your behalf. However, you also notice his Workers Comp is due to renew in about a week but, he assures you the renewal is going to happen and he’ll provide you with an updated certificate just as soon as he gets it from his agent. You need to get your latest project under roof as soon as possible because the weather has been uncertain; so, you decide to take a chance. Besides, it shouldn’t take a week to do a roof. What could go wrong?
The weather takes a turn for the worse. By the time the roof is started it’s been over a week. Then you get the news one of the roofer’s employees has been injured. He didn’t fall but, he hurt his back. Only then do you remember the promised certificate hasn’t appeared. Then your roofer admits his policy was not renewed because he failed to make a payment. Your policy doesn’t cover injuries to the employees of subcontractors.*
That’s because workers compensation insurance is available to them and is designed to cover the medical bills and lost wages of his employees. As it turns out, waiting for a renewal certificate of insurance might have avoided you being held liable for a loss that isn’t covered under your policy.
- Make sure all your subcontractors provide you with up-to-date certificates of insurance.
- Ask them if they have any open or, unreported claims.
- Be aware of what your policy does and does not cover.
Don’t let someone else’s lack of planning become your problem.
(*Does not apply in New York.)