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How to Spot a Fake Certificate of Insurance

How to Spot a Fake Certificate of Insurance

Fake Certificates of Insurance (COIs) have caused problems for decades, and modern technology has only made the problems worse. It's now easier than ever to create a fake COI.

For example, let’s say that you as the General Contractor (GC) hire a roofing subcontractor to install the roof on the home you are building. As the GC, you want all of your subcontractors to be insured. Your roofer was insured years ago, and he has a COI from then. But a while back he dropped his insurance to cut costs. This cutting cost by cutting corners could definitely hurt you if the roofer makes a mistake, one of their employees is injured, or some other harmful event happens at the jobsite, so you would want to know that the roofer no longer has insurance.

The problem is that this particular roofer doesn’t want you to know that. He takes an old Certificate of Insurance and writes in a new date. He has no General Liability or Workers' Compensation insurance, but how will you know that?


You need to know how to spot a fake COI

Long ago, to fake a COI subcontractors would need to use a typewriter or forge another person's handwriting to edit the form. Now that computers can mimic the font on Certificates much better than typewriters ever could, these fake COIs look all the more believable.


Require the certificate to be sent from the agent

The first step to avoiding fake COIs is to always require that the COI be sent to you directly from the insurance agency, not from the subcontractor. There are a few more steps you can take to protect yourself.


Does the Insurance Certificate have The Version

Make sure that the Certificate of Insurance says it is the “ACORD 25” form in the bottom left corner. Check the same corner to verify that it is the 2016 version of the form–that is the most recent version that the ACORD has created. Also check for the ACORD logo in the top left corner.


Check the Fonts on the Certificate

If the form has handwriting or has any fonts that don’t match, it is probably fake. Also, check the alignment in the text boxes–be sure that everything is lined up.


Other Signs the COI is Fake

Another sign that someone downloaded an empty COI form and filled it in as a fake is if there is a rectangle in the bottom right that either says “CLEAR ALL” or is blank.


Check That the Insurance Company Exists

Look up the insurance company listed on the Certificate, and make sure it is legitimate. There are many ways to do this including going to AM BestAM Best is an organization that keeps track of the financial strength of insurance carriers.  This is a free site though you will have to register and create a user name and password.  Another option is to search for the company online and just pick up the phone and call the insurance company to verify that the policy exists.

Taking these steps can help you avoid fake COIs and keep your business protected.


Certificates of Insurance, or COIs, are like ID cards for insurance. They tell you who's covered, what's protected, and for how long. But just like some people use fake IDs, there are fake COIs out there too.  Use these 6 Tips for Spotting a Fake Certificate of Insurance.  Always double-check these details, ask questions, and trust your gut. If something feels off about a COI, it might be fake!



Eager to learn more? We have the place for you!  Click here to read our Complete Guide to Certificates of Insurance.  Shockingly, we have actually published a book just on Insurance Certificates and you can download it there as well.  If you are an insurance agent reading this and trying to learn about COIs, you're welcome! 😉

A Certificate of Insurance contains many different pieces of information.  If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us! We are always happy to help!

Click Here to Read our Definitive Guide to Certificates of Insurance



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Veritas Risk Management, Inc. offers proactive risk management services covering a wide variety of topics. Veritas Risk Management, Inc. does not engage in the practice of law, accounting, or tax consulting.  We encourage everyone to consult with his or her own professional advisor for details concerning his or her specific facts, situations, and circumstances.