Cvetkovic vs. N.J. Water Supply Authority
It is common for contractors working on large-scale construction projects to require their subcontractors to provide a “Certificate of Insurance.” These certificates are commonly issued by insurance brokers and are intended to confirm to the prime contractor that the subcontractor maintains insurance.
In Cvetkovic vs. N.J. Water Supply Authority, a New Jersey Appellate Court has decided, as a matter of first impression in New Jersey, that a certificate of insurance which contains a disclaimer that the certificate was issued “as a matter of information only and confers no rights upon the certificate holder” nor does it “amend, extend or alter the coverage afforded by the policies” does not establish insurance coverage for the contractor receiving the certificate.
The Court confirmed the limited weight these commonly issued certificates should be afforded, due to the expansive disclaimers included on most form certificates.
In practice, a party seeking proof of insurance, in the construction context, or otherwise, should not rely merely upon the certificate of insurance as evidence of insurance coverage. Further, if the contractor seeks coverage under the subcontractor’s policy, the contractor must require an endorsement issued by the insurance carrier showing that the certificate holder has been added to the insurance policy as an additional insured. Without this endorsement, the certificate holder is left largely unprotected, and should not draw comfort from the certificate, which alone can be of little or no value.
Thus, if a party seeks confirmation that its subcontractor has insurance coverage, the party should require an actual copy of the policy with confirmation from the insurance carrier that it is in full force and effect. If the party is seeking liability protection as an additional insured, an endorsement which so provides is required.
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