Insurance Certificates – What’s New

The proper issuance of insurance certificates appears to be an issue that just will not go away.  I continue to receive calls and e-mails under the Free Legal Service Program that I run for the IIAG about this issue and in particular, requests made by certificate holders for specific language they want included in the Description of Operations box on the ACORD 25 form.

As many of my readers are probably aware, the Insurance Commissioner’s Office has created a website devoted solely to explaining the requirements of the law on insurance certificates that was passed in 2011.  As pointed out in my blog post in April of this year, that website contained conflicting information about what could be put in the Description of Operations box of the ACORD 25 form.  That conflict has now been resolved.  A revised website recently went live.

After input from representatives of IIAG, the language of the website has been changed to make it clear that the prohibition against including a “summary of a policy provision,” the language of which “varies from the precise and complete language” of that provision applies to the Description of Operations box of the ACORD 25 form.  The list of improper actions with respect to the use and completion of an insurance certificate now includes a specific reference to what can be put in that box.  It is improper to include language that summarizes a policy provision in that box, as well as anywhere else on the certificate.  Instead, references to specific policy provisions or endorsements by “exact title, form number, and edition date” can be included in the Description of Operations box and copies of the documents referred to can be attached to the certificate.

The other major change made to the Insurance Commissioner’s insurance certificate website is the addition of a section that explains to whom the provisions of the insurance certificate law apply.  As readers of my blog already know, that law applies to certificate holders and those who request certificates, as well as to insureds, insurance agents, and insurance companies.  It also applies regardless of where any such persons may be physically located, if the property, operations, or risks to be covered by the insurance policy that is the subject of the certificate are located in Georgia.   Agents now have an authoritative source to which they can direct out-of-state contractors or others requesting insurance certificates for proof that the law applies to them.  Agents should also point out that the website refers to the fact that violations of that law can be punished by fines of up to $5,000.00.

The new website still has an e-mail link that can be used to report suspected violations of the law and an explanation of the information needed to do so.  I urge my readers to make use of the e-mail link, as the Insurance Commissioner can’t take action against those persons who violate the law unless he knows about them.