Between the Lines

A Discussion of Case Law and Statutory Law Affecting Commercial Lines of Insurance


Agents Beware – A certificate of insurance could guarantee coverage, regardless of the policy language

A condominium owner requested flood insurance coverage and the agent produced a certificate listing a policy providing coverage for flood insurance to the condominium trust and the unit owners.  Because this particular insured’s unit was below ground, the insurer (correctly) refused to cover the loss.  The agent argued that in simply listing the flood policy it could not be liable for misrepresenting that the unit had flood insurance.  The trial court agreed with the agent, but the appellate court agreed with the insured and reversed.  While recognizing that a certificate need not describe all of the terms, conditions and exclusions of a policy, the failure to include “a particularly dramatic limitation” could still give rise to a claim against the agent.  In short, agents beware – If you are asked to procure coverage and you provide a certificate of insurance, you could be guaranteeing coverage, even if the policy doesn’t cover the loss.

Witkowski v. Richard W. Endlar Ins. Agency, Inc., ___ Mass. App. Ct. ___ (2012).

Steve Schreckinger
(617) 621-6537

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Steve Schreckinger

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