11 Ways to Improve Service Network COI Management

Protecting your organization when working with third-party contractors can be complicated. There are many pieces that must be managed to protect both your business and the business of your contractor.

Many things can go wrong when ensuring that you have properly mitigated your risk through the management of certificates of insurance (COIs) and your compliance program. Confirming proper coverage and requirements, missing or incorrect COIs, proper communication and enforcement can be a challenge.

The following suggestions cover the most common problems found in the collection, evaluation, notification, management, and monitoring of COIs along with tips on how to avoid them. If you are looking to focus on the importance of proper insurance coverage and learn some best practices for mitigating risk in your contractor network, then you’re in the right place. Keep reading.

 

 

1. Establish Appropriate Insurance Coverage Requirements for your Network

 

Having a COI in hand does not necessarily mean you have properly protected yourself against risk, and one size does not fit all scenarios across your business.

Determine the relative risk that each contractor may pose, then develop insurance coverage guidelines aligned with the nature of the risk, the type of work they will be doing and best practices for the industry. There may be different insurance coverage requirements and limits if a contractor is working on different programs for you. Being able to identify this and create standard requirements across program is important. Also, you will want to find the right balance between keeping operations flowing and protection. As such, you will want to work with your operations team and what they hear from the network as well as consult with your insurance broker and/or risk manager to determine proper coverage. You will find that both will pull you in opposite directions, this is where you may need to strike a balance.

 

 

2. Ensure that the insurance requirements are in the contract or agreement

 

Once you have established appropriate insurance coverage, make sure that it is stated in your contractor agreement.

This will be your best line of protection if you find yourself in a lawsuit or claim. Ensure that you have done a review of older agreements with existing contractors and that you have an executed agreement with your current insurance requirements. An updated contract may be necessary at this point.

 

 

3. Ensure Coverage is in Place Before the Insured Begins Work

All too often vendors begin the job before you have received all the necessary paperwork. Not only does this demonstrate your lack of seriousness about the issue but it puts you at great risk and eliminates any leverage you may have over the contractor to get the required documents. If you are already giving them the work, why should they bother to provide the COI? It is important to establish a formal, consistent procedure for processing all COIs from the contractor before work begins.

 

4. Enforce the Rules for Insurance Coverage

A contractor who is currently in your network but not compliant with the insurance coverage needed should be addressed immediately. Any gap or lapse in coverage exposes your business to risk.

Review how often the contractor works for you and consider the type of work being completed to determine the level of risk you are exposed to. For high volume, high-risk work, you will want to ensure that the contractor consistently comply.

When you have a network of contractors, minimizing gaps in coverage means lines of communication must be established with your contractors, written expectations for appropriate coverage should be provided and procedures should be in place to make certain the contractor responds and complies with your requirements. Without enforcement of your policy and procedures, your program is not protecting you and puts the reputation, financial and operational wellbeing of the organization in the hands of your service network.

 

5. Make Someone Responsible for COI Management

Insurance coverage is not a “one and done” effort that you complete when engaging a contractor in your network and then never revisit. The COI process is something that needs to be actively managed.

Because this process can be menial or other priorities take the forefront, it often doesn’t get the attention it deserves. COI management includes the collection of the COI, confirmation that the contents, coverage, and policy information meet the contractual requirements, that the proof of insurance isn’t fraudulent, random rechecks to ensure coverage presented at onboarding remains correct and in place, and then reminders and recollection of the data at the end of each expiration period. Designate a specific individual, or individuals, to take possession of this important business process and hold them accountable for ensuring they meet standards.

 

6. Understand Certificates of Insurance and Declaration Pages

Does the team managing your compliance program know the difference between auto combined single limit or split limits? How about cargo versus bailee coverage or garage liability versus garage keepers? Whether these coverages apply to your network or not, being able to understand applicable limits, policy types, endorsements, and other insurance information is critical to knowing whether or not the documentation provided fulfills your requirements and provides the coverage that you need to minimize risk.

Ensure that the team managing your program is trained to understand the nuances of insurance. Consider consulting with your company’s insurance broker, risk manager, or a COI management company to gain knowledge on how and what to identify when processing proof of insurance such as certificates and policy declaration pages.

 

 

7. Understand Additional Insured Endorsements

As well as the standard policies and coverage limits, you may also need to understand additional insured endorsements, such as completed and ongoing operations or broad form vendor.

Both endorsements contain sections to be completed by an insurance underwriter (not the insurance broker or agent) to define who the additional insured is and under what circumstances. These endorsements alter the coverage provided in the insurance policy. Compliance with requirements can be at risk if the appropriate language and endorsements do not fulfill the policy requirements.

A review of the full insurance documents is required to ensure requirements are being met. This should be done by someone who has knowledge and experience in reviewing endorsements.

 

 

8. Obtain Renewal COIs Before Expiration

COIs expire at the end of the policy period and they must be reissued for another period. A period is typically one year but may vary by coverage or provider.

Obtaining this documentation is part of the active management of the COI process, as noted earlier. It is also important to ensure coverage is in place to cover the entire time a contractor is working on a job. Helpful reminders and working with the contractor and Agent/Broker directly yield much success as the Agent/Broker has a vested interest in ensuring the proper policy is in place and the contractor is likely too busy with their operations to handle the nuances of the coverage they need.

Do you have a system in place to monitor this important information and act upon it? Is it working? These are important questions to ask yourself if you’re looking to improve your company’s COI management.

 

9. Keep COIs Even After They Have Expired

When a policy expires and is replaced by an updated policy, retention of the previous policy is still very important. You may need a copy of that expired COI to prove the insurance was in place to protect you against the claim and help you recover damages. It also provides the necessary information on which carrier to contact. This further supports the concept that insurance is a management program and an ongoing process.

 

10. Measure Progress

Can you evaluate the success of your current COI management program? How successful are you at renewals and compliance metrics? If you cannot answer that or don’t know how you’re doing you probably aren’t doing the best job possible. Compliance rates will change over time, but a fulsome and efficient program will ensure that those changes result in increased compliance levels.

 

 

11. If You Can’t Do It, Partner with Someone Who Will

There are a lot of moving parts to COI tracking, and you need a certain level of insurance knowledge and discipline to do it properly. Be honest about your capabilities, the time and expertise you have available to dedicate, and whether this is something you want your organization responsible for.

Following these basic steps can make all the difference between best-practices of risk transfer versus potentially catastrophic risk exposure. In our litigious and media-driven society, proper insurance coverage, and a solid insurance management program is an important way to mitigate the risk of engaging the services of an uninsured or underinsured party.

 

Contents are provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Users are reminded to seek legal counsel with respect to their obligations and use of PlusOne Solutions services.

 

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Interested in learning more about our compliance services? Contact us at (877) 943-0100 or send us a message using the form below.



Certificate Holder vs. Additional Insured – Understanding Certificates of Insurance

Financial risk arising from unplanned accidents is a common occurrence in the world today.

In order to mitigate these risks and safeguard your business, a liability insurance policy is an important investment. Having a Commercial Liability Policy (CGL) on a Certificate of Insurance helps protect against the risks when working with contractor networks.

Companies who wish to contract with an independent contractor for their services will typically stipulate within the terms and conditions of their contract certain insurance requirements, such as requiring a policyholder to list them as an additional insured to their policy, to mitigate their risks in the event of a negligent incident committed by the independent contractor that has a financial impact (i.e. causes injury to a third party/customer or property damage) and a claim needs to be created against the contracted company’s (policyholder) general liability policy.

When going to verify proof of additional insured, it is common for people to confuse what would be considered a certificate holder rather than an additional insured on a certificate of insurance. Knowing the difference is important.

What’s the difference between the certificate holder and additional insured?

 

The certificate holder named on a policy will receive a copy of the policyholder’s certificate of insurance (COI), which verifies insurance and usually contains information on the type and limits of coverage.  The entity will be listed in the CERTIFICATE HOLDER section of the COI.

Certificate holders are more likely to be notified or receive notifications in case of changes, annual renewal, or cancellation of the policy by the policyholder.  However, they are not authorized to make a claim under the policy.

The entity that does have the rights and authorization to make a claim is the additional insured.  On COI’s, additional insured entities are indicated in these two ways:  By an X or checkmark in the ADDL INSR box on the General Liability section of the COI and/or the additional insured entity is named in the DESCRIPTION OF OPERATIONS section.

As an additional insured, you may receive notices that coverage has been cancelled from the insurance carrier. However, you are more likely to receive notices of cancellation and changes in coverage from the insurance broker if you are a certificate holder as well.

Additional Insured vs. Certificate Holder infographic

 

 

Contents are provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Users are reminded to seek legal counsel with respect to their obligations and use of PlusOne Solutions services.


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Interested in learning more about managing your certificates of insurance? Contact us at (877) 943-0100 or send us a message using the form below.



4 Steps to Ensure Better Coverage of Additional Insured Endorsement

Most companies require their contractors or vendors to name themselves as an additional insured endorsement on their Commercial General Liability Policy (CGL).

However, to verify this information, many companies will simply:

  • Collect the Certificate of Insurance (COI)
  • Confirm the amounts
  • Ensure the additional insured box is checked or that their name as additional insured is in the description box of the ACORD form

On the surface, this may sound like a sufficient process. However, in many cases, this practice is not good enough to ensure coverage.

So what needs to be done in order to adequately ensure coverage?

In this article, we will answer:

  • Why many additional insured practices don’t meet COI requirements
  • How a blanket additional insured endorsement might unintentionally invalidate coverage
  • How to better ensure coverage on a contractual agreement in 4 easy steps

Certificate of Insurance Misrepresentation  

In 2015, the International Risk Management Institute (IRMI) performed a study on a sample of COIs to evaluate the effectiveness of insurance certificate representation and reported coverage.

The results were shocking!

At face value, 100% of the certificates met the client’s requirements. However, when the actual policy was reviewed, only 10% of the certificates met insurance coverage requirements. 

But why did only 10% of the samples meet COI requirements?

The reason is simple: blanket endorsements.

Blanket Additional Insured Endorsement: What to Look For

Generally speaking, blanket endorsements provide adequate protection for companies. Not to mention, they are also affordable options for contractors who work with several parties that may require an additional insured status. 

In cases like these, the blanket additional insured endorsement or policy itself is not the problem. But rather, an issue with a contractor agreement – or, in some cases, the complete lack of a simple contractor agreement – may ultimately invalidate the coverage. 

In other words, your contract might unintentionally invalidate your coverage. 

That being said, blanket endorsements require a valid contract between the contractor and any parties that may require an additional insured status. 

But what does an additional insured endorsement look like? Look no further. Keep reading to learn how to ensure adequate coverage with a valid contractor agreement.

4 Tips on How to Ensure Coverage on a Contract 

While onboarding a new service contractor, follow these 4 simple steps to ensure your contract doesn’t unintentionally invalidate your coverage.

1. Make a Written Agreement

First things first, always be sure you have a written agreement with your contractor that requires you to be an additional insured on the CGL policy.

Note: it is also important to review agreements with contractors who may be on a legacy contract. 

2. Place Agreement Under Company Name

Next, make sure the agreement is under the company’s official name and not their dba. 

An extra tip is to ensure the name on the agreement matches the one on the contractor’s W9. Why? Because more likely than not, the W9 has been verified through the IRS. 

3. Authorize the Agreement

After placing the agreement under company name, authorize the agreement with an official, authorized signature. 

Why is this important?

Many agreements have been invalidated simply because the individual who signed was not an authorized signer of the company. 

In the case of a sole proprietor, he/she must sign themselves. On the other hand, in the case of signing with another corporation or business entity, check the Secretary of State website for a list of officers and ensure it is one of them who sign the agreement. 

4. Proof Additional Insured Parties

If there are any other parties that you require to be listed as an additional insured on the certificate, create a direct contract between them and the contractor as well. 

This will keep everyone organized and well-informed. 

By following these 4 simple steps, your company can go a long way to ensure that you are not the one that has to pay a claim when a contractor makes a mistake or causes unforeseen damage.

Ensure Your Company’s Coverage with PlusOne Solutions

Founded in 2005, PlusOne Solutions is a Nationally Accredited Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA) that specializes in helping organizations with large networks of independent contractors mitigate risks through:

  • Document management
  • Insurance
  • Background screening
  • Drug testing
  • Compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and EEOC guidelines
  • License management
  • Badging/credentialing

 

For more information on how best to manage your contractor insurance requirements or to learn more about our Insurance Management Services, please contact us

Contents are provided for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Users are reminded to seek legal counsel with respect to their obligations and use of PlusOne Solutions services.