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The Rough Notes Company Inc.



June 25
09:04 2021


By Lana Mawhinney, ACRA, CRA, CIC, CISR, CPIW


Educate your clients, from social inflation to nuclear verdicts

Digital certificates of insurance (COI) are an essential component to engaging with your clientele who desire to increase productivity and response time. At Universal Business Insurance, we assess our clients’ (and prospects’) vulnerabilities from a risk management perspective, develop a written service plan strategy and continually audit their progress. Our service plan strategy assessment determines which are the most appropriate service channels to provide.

It is imperative today to have service options that provide essential tools to allow our clients within our main verticals—construction, hospitality, social services, manufacturing and trucking industries—the ability to operate outside of the standard weekday time period as their industries demand. We use Applied’s CSR24 to offer capabilities for clients to not only view their information but also to act upon their insurance needs around the clock.

By enabling clients to handle certificate requests directly, the agency/brokerage is able to focus its attention on other servicing needs.

An online, self-service client portal not only allows for client certificate issuance on an as-needed basis, but also provides clients with the ability to track their issued certificates within a secure and reliable system. Mobile capabilities are available for quick issuance anywhere, anytime. Mobile platforms can also provide secure permission levels that incorporate the certificate issuance functions while protecting the agency’s control over the data.

Keys to an automated COI process

Automating the certificate process as part of the risk management portfolio can help reduce client staff time spent on making requests, completing emails, and attaching documents to send to the agency or brokerage, as well as any necessary follow-up. By enabling clients to handle certificate requests directly, the agency/brokerage is able to focus its attention on other servicing needs.

Should a client find the process too cumbersome, the agency/brokerage can resume the function easily. However, many clients appreciate the ability to control certain aspects of the verification process, and to date, none have requested us to assume the issuance process.

Tips for successful implementation include:

  1. Provide in-person training to client users
  2. Set up standard COI wording templates
  3. Disallow clients to alter certificate wording
  4. Centralize the process
  5. Ensure policies coincide with coverages afforded and streamline the endorsement process when altering a policy to comply with COI requests
  6. Establish best practices for reviews of written contracts by the agency/brokerage for compliance beyond the compliance checks within the software
  7. Establish auditing procedures for agency/brokerage and client usage to affirm best practices are being followed
  8. Ensure everyone issuing certificates has reviewed the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers’ Best Practices for Certificates of Insurance

Agencies and brokerages that are automating the certificate process should also utilize document uploads for Blanket Additional Insureds and Waiver of Subrogation policy forms as well as usage of text libraries.

When additional insureds and waivers of subrogation are requested, oftentimes the Certificate Holder requires documentation directly from the policy. Blanket endorsements ensure that every holder who has entered into a written contract or agreement with the insured is included for coverage and, in most cases, will satisfy the holder requests and contractual obligations.

Conversely, there are times when a holder requires their name specifically listed on the endorsement, which must be requested of the carrier. Once received, the endorsement is included in the document uploads for access. This provides the client with a one-step issuance process.

The text libraries, usually entered by the agency/brokerage administrator, ensure that the proper wording can be selected by the insured. These predetermined types make it easier for clients to find. When it is an insured-specific certificate, we have an audit process in place to verify the wording matches the policy.

Agency/brokerage staff also may need to review the client contract(s) and any coverage requested outside of the lines of coverage already listed on the COI (such as pollution or professional liability) along with any special requests for coverage that the insured may need to comply with. These types of additions to the COI should be part of your audit process.

Our clients have been impressed with having a digital channel and our system’s ease of use, with many noting that they are able to provide better service to their customers (vendors, general and subcontractors, retailers, etc.) by quickly responding to requests.

With proper onboarding of agency/brokerage and insureds’ staff, the deployment and utilization of automated certificates will be smooth and assist in providing the most integrated and cohesive experience to both your clients and their customers.

The author

Lana Mawhinney, ACRA, CRA, CIC, CISR, CPIW, is a Certified Risk Architect and director of operations at Utah-based Universal Business Insurance, the May 2017 Rough Notes Agency of the Month.

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