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ASK PIA? Certificates of Insurance  Q: We are having problems with a large company that continues to request specific language on certificates of insurance. They reject certificates that do not contain their requested language, and in some cases, they have even refused to pay subcontractors unless and until this company is referenced as an additional insured on a certificate. I had heard that such requests may not actually be allowed. Is this correct? A: While Minnesota does not have a law prohibiting special requests on certificates of insurance, Minnesota law DOES  prohibit agents from issuing an altered certificate, any certificate form that has not been approved by the Department of Commerce, or any certificate that does not accurately reflect the policy language. There are a couple of places where Certificates of Insurance are addressed within MN Statutes.  The first, found in MN Statute 60A.39 CERTIFICATES OF INSURANCE. Subdivision 1. Issuance. A licensed insurer or insurance producer may provide to a third party a certificate of insurance which documents insurance coverage. For the purposes of this chapter, a certificate of insurance is a document that provides evidence of property or liability insurance coverage and the amount of insurance issued, and does not convey any contractual rights to the certificate holder. Subd. 2. Approval. An insurer or licensed producer shall not issue a certificate of insurance or other document or instrument that either affirmatively or negatively amends, extends, or alters the coverage provided by an approved policy, form, or endorsement without the written approval of the commissioner. Subd. 3. Required statement. A certificate or memorandum of property or casualty insurance when issued to any person other than the policyholder must contain the following or similar statement: "This certificate or memorandum of insurance does not affirmatively or negatively amend, extend, or alter the coverage afforded by the insurance policy." Subd. 4. Cancellation notice. A certificate provided to a third party must not provide for notice of cancellation that exceeds the statutory notice of cancellation provided to the policyholder or a period of notice specified in the policy. Subd. 5. Filing. An insurer not using the standard ACORD or ISO form "Certificate of Insurance" shall file with the commissioner, prior to its use, a similar alternative "Certificate of Insurance" covering the same information for use by the insurer. Filed forms may not be amended at the request of a third party. Subd. 6. Opinion letters. A licensed insurance producer may not issue, in lieu of a certificate, an agent's opinion letter or other correspondence that is inconsistent with this section.Another reference is in MN Statute 60K.46  Required and Prohibited Acts. The portion about Certificates found in Subd. 8 reads as follows: Subd. 8. Certificates of insurance. An insurance producer shall not issue a certificate of insurance, or other evidence of insurance coverage that either affirmatively or negatively amends, extends, or alters the coverage as provided by the policy, or provides notice of cancellation to a third party that exceeds the statutory notice requirement to a policyholder. Back in 2008, the Minnesota Commerce Department issued Bulletin 2008-3, that specifically addressed the issuance of certificates with altered language. The bulletin referenced the above statute and went on to say that “violation of these laws could subject the insurer or insurance producer to administrative enforcement, including civil penalties and license revocation.” So, what are your options? Ask the insurer if they are able to comply with the third party special request with a policy endorsement. If so, the language may be able to be included on a certificate. Send a copy of the entire policy instead of a certificate (with your client’s permission, of course) or, simply say “NO” and direct them to the statutes that prohibit you from complying with their request.  Some states make this a lot easier. Laws in Georgia and Louisiana, for example, make it illegal to request or possess certificates that are knowingly in violation of the law. If that doesn’t get their attention, the $5,000 fine just might. 

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