Moving Soon? You Need to Know About Certificates of Insurance

Originally posted on August 10, 2022 3:00 pm
Updated on August 04, 2022 9:33 pm

If you’re planning to hire movers to help ease the transition into a new apartment this summer, you can safely expect that your building manager may request that the moving company submit a Certificate of Insurance or COI. While it’s easy for these kinds of paperwork to slip through the cracks during these types of large transitions, it’s important to be aware that the delivery of this certificate is an important step in the process—and that your move may not happen at all without it.

What is a COI?

A certificate of insurance serves as proof that a moving company, delivery service, or contractor possesses insurance that will provide coverage for them and the building they are working in should any major incidents occur. This document concisely lays out the details of their policy, including the nature of the coverage provided as well as its limits, in order to make this information accessible to all involved parties. In most cases, contractors and movers will be required to submit a COI to your building’s management before they will be allowed to enter the premises. 

What information does a COI need to contain?

Though COIs are based on a standardized template, each certificate of insurance is specifically tailored to the contract being fulfilled. It will include information about the service being provided by your contractor, the names and contact information of the parties involved in the transaction, and the address of the building you are moving into. The COI will also outline various aspects of your contractor’s insurance policy, including their liability coverage and its limits.

When reviewing your contractor’s COI, be sure that its contents are accurate and up to date. If anything listed in the COI is incorrect, be sure to request an updated document immediately in order to avoid snags later on down the line.

When do I need a COI?

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COIs are necessary any time you are bringing in a third party service that could potentially cause damage to your building. This includes not only movers but also furniture delivery services and contractors who you have hired to help out with renovations. When working with movers, you will most likely need to provide a certificate of insurance to both the manager of the building you are moving into and the manager of the building you are moving out of.

More expensive buildings, especially those with doormen, are sure to be sticklers about COIs and will most likely require the submission of a COI before granting you permission to move in. Nevertheless, not every building will explicitly require a certificate of insurance—but it is always wise to ask. The last thing you want is to deal with the unexpected obstacle of tracking down a COI at the last minute on moving day. 

Many renters mistakenly believe that they will not need to provide a COI if they possess their own apartment insurance. This is not the case, as your movers’ insurance policy will pertain to a much broader range of damages and provide much greater coverage—at times up to millions of dollars. In fact, certain luxury buildings will only accept movers whose certificate of insurance confirms that they are insured for upwards of $10 million. Your movers’ insurance, as laid out in their COI, will also serve to protect you and your movers in the event that workers are injured, or common areas of your building are damaged during the move.

How can I get a COI?

The first step is to contact your building’s management and confirm that they require a COI. If so, you can then ask if they have a specific template or format they prefer to use. Next, you will pass their template on to your contractor. If they are an experienced and legitimate service provider, they should have no trouble filling out the requested information. Finally, you’ll submit the completed certificate to your building’s management. Be sure also to save a copy for your own records.

Some buildings only require a COI to be sent in at least one day before your move, while others stipulate that this documentation be submitted weeks in advance so that they can factor your move into their elevator schedule. In either case, it’s important to get the ball rolling on acquiring your COI sooner rather than later in order to allow extra time for corrections in the case that a discrepancy is found. After all, a delayed COI can ultimately throw a massive wrench into your moving plans.

What happens if I don’t submit a COI?

Photo by Avi Werde on Unsplash

If you dawdle on submitting your COI, you open yourself up to a host of unpleasant consequences. Your building’s management may not allow your movers to enter the property or to use the elevator if they have not been furnished with a COI, and you could easily find yourself waiting at the curb with a team of movers and several fully loaded trucks only to be told you’ll have to come back another day. Alongside wasting several hours of your time, this delay will leave you with the added financial burden of paying your movers for an extra day’s work. Your new building may also level fees at you over your missing paperwork.

Failing to secure a COI from your contractor can also leave you vulnerable to shady business practices. For example, imagine that the movers you found on Craigslist shatter a glass door while loading furniture into your new building. When you check in with your movers about how the damage will be paid for, you discover that they were never insured in the first place. In this situation, you could easily find yourself ensnared in a legal battle between your movers and the building—or, even worse, entirely on the hook for the damages they cause.

While the process of acquiring a certificate of insurance may seem like one more annoying task on your move-out list, confirming your contractors’ insurance is a crucial step that will save you lots of time and stress in the long run. 

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