A workers’ compensation certificate of insurance (COI) is proof that a business carries workers’ comp coverage. You may have heard a workers’ compensation certificate referred to by different names such as COI, insurance certificate, certificate of insurance form, subcontractor certificate of insurance, or proof of insurance. 

Here, we’ll explore workers’ compensation certificates for subcontractors. We’ll explain what a workers’ compensation certificate is, who needs one, when to provide one, where and how to get one, and why having a workers’ compensation policy is a wise business decision.

What is a workers’ compensation certificate of insurance?

A workers’ compensation certificate of insurance is a form showing proof that a company has workers’ compensation insurance coverage. The certificate of insurance is issued by an insurance provider, and it lists details including the names of the insurer and the policyholder, policy period, type of insurance, policy number, and effective dates.

Who needs to have a workers’ compensation insurance certificate?

If you’re a subcontractor or independent contractor, you may or may not be required by law to have a workers’ compensation policy for yourself and your employees. This depends on the workers’ compensation laws in your state. However, even if you are not legally obligated to have a workers’ compensation policy, companies you do business with may insist that you have coverage and that you provide them with your workers’ compensation certificate of insurance. So, in addition to general contractors and other companies who employ workers, subcontractors and independent contractors who do business with other businesses or government entities likely need to have a workers’ compensation certificate.

When do subcontractors need to provide a workers’ compensation certificate?

If you’re a subcontractor or independent contractor, you may need to provide a workers’ compensation certificate when you enter into a contract with another company. You may also need to show your workers’ compensation certificate if you perform work for a governmental entity. On the flip side, remember, if you have another subcontractor or independent contractor working for you, you should request a certificate from them to prove to your insurance company that they are covered through their own policy.

How can subcontractors get a workers’ compensation certificate?

To get a workers’ compensation certificate, first, you’ll need to have a workers’ compensation insurance policy. Depending on the workers’ compensation laws in your state, you can get workers’ comp insurance from a private insurance company, through a state-funded system, or if you have the resources, through self-insurance. Once you have a policy, you can get a workers’ compensation certificate from your insurer.

Where can subcontractors get workers’ compensation insurance?

If you’re currently in the market for a policy, check out our resources on how you can find the best workers’ compensation insurance for your company and how to prepare to get a workers’ comp quote.

Why is having workers’ compensation insurance the best choice for subcontractors?

Having workers’ compensation insurance is a wise business decision for subcontractors and independent contractors for several reasons. You may choose to get workers’ compensation coverage if:

  1.       Your state laws require it.

  2.       A general contractor or other business requires it.

  3.       You simply want to reduce your liability and protect your business assets.

  4.       You use other subcontractors, leased employees, or independent contractors.

If you’re interested in learning more about workers’ compensation, see our Workers’ Comp 101 resources.



Thanks for reading! Please note that this content is intended for educational purposes only. As laws change regularly, you should refer to your state legislation and/or an advisor for specific legal counsel. If you’re a small business owner, learn more about workers’ compensation insurance or check your current rate in 3 minutes.

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