What is a Certificate of Insurance?
Moving seems to stir up a hurricane of vital documents — leases, income verification letters, DMV forms, medical records, insurance policies…the list goes on!
If you’re using a moving company, there’s one document in particular you need to know your way around: the Certificate of Insurance.
As far as titles go, Certificate of Insurance seems fairly self-explanatory at first glance. Most people understand both what a certificate is and what insurance is, right? What’s important to understand about the Certificate of Insurance is more what it isn’t than what it is.
Let’s start with what it is
A Certificate of Insurance is an informational document stating the existence of an insurance agreement between two parties. In a moving context, it’s what moving companies provide to customers to prove that they do indeed have insurance. It also serves as a summary of the insurance contract, with easily digestible information about said contract.
This document will typically include the names and contact details of the moving company, the insured party (i.e. the person who’s moving) and the insurance company, as well as basic information regarding what is covered.
It’s important to realize however, that the Certificate of Insurance is not the actual insurance policy contract!
A Certificate of Insurance is an easy document for moving companies to whip up for people, to provide peace-of-mind and assure them their goods are protected and they’ll be compensated in case of damages. But it will never include all the details or actual terms of the contract.
Because of this, it’s essential to look at the policy as well, so you can be clear on exactly what is covered, what is not covered, how long things are covered, in what cases they are covered, what the exceptions are, etc.
If/when you get a Certificate of Insurance, you’ll want to make sure all the names are correctly represented, the policy dates are accurate (e.g. they don’t expire before the move date), and that the insurance company named is a legitimate company.
Why Get a Certificate of Insurance?
First of all, landlords and property owners/managers will often request a Certificate of Insurance from tenants moving out, since the very process of moving can sometimes lead to property damage.
If that situation applies to you, make sure to ask if you need to provide a Certificate of Insurance before you move. And again, if applicable, don’t forget to ask the landlord or property manager of the building that you’re moving to as well. The risk of property damage is just as high for moving in as moving out!
Secondly, requesting a Certificate of Insurance is an easy way to vet a moving company’s legitimacy. A refusal to provide you with a Certificate of Insurance for any reason is a clear red flag.
Of course, if you did your homework, and found a legitimate, trustworthy moving company (click here for tips on how to do that), you won’t have to worry too much about being scammed!
For more information on moving insurance, and what options are available to you, read our guide on the subject here.
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