Consider the following scenario: the construction project is ready to proceed. The deal is done. The agreements have all been carefully crafted, with detailed provisions on insurance dedicated to reducing risk. Those provisions require the downstream trade contractors to furnish certificates of insurance listing the owner and prime contractor as additional insureds on the downstream contractor’s policies of insurance. A provision in the prime contract further requires the prime contractor to provide the owner with a certificate of insurance showing the owner as an additional insured on the prime contractor’s policies. At the ceremonial ground-breaking and right before work commences, the downstream contractors deliver their insurance certificates to the prime contractor and the prime contractor delivers its certificate plus the downstream certificates to the owner. From there, each insurance certificate will begin its final destination to the project file (either electronic or physical) where, with any luck, it will serve the regular stint before being discarded after the project’s successful conclusion. Otherwise, it will be retrieved under much stress and heavy scrutiny. The acceptance of insurance certificates is often viewed as standard industry practice, but should it be?
The answer is a resounding “no.” There are many form development and construction agreements in circulation that deem insurance certificates to be acceptable evidence of insurance. But, a certificate of insurance should not be relied upon because it does not mean that insurance has been placed. You deserve real evidence that the requisite additional insured coverage is in place (in the form of a policy endorsement), and here is why.
Reprinted courtesy of Joseph L. Cohen, Fox Rothschild, W. Mason, Fox Rothschild and Sean Milani-nia, Fox Rothschild
Mr. Cohen may be contacted at email@example.com
Mr. Mason may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Milani-nia may be contacted at email@example.com