Topic Thread

1.  Certificates of Insurance

Posted 03-17-2017 08:25

How long after a commercial construction project has been completed, must you keep current certificates of insurance for the various subcontractors that worked on the project on file?


Diane L. Turke, CCIFP

Certified Construction Industry Financial Professional

Senior Accountant


Roberts, Ritschke & Tyczkowski, Ltd.

335 First Street, PO Box 679, Neenah, WI 54957-0679

(920) 722-2141  1-800-926-2096  Fax (920) 722-8637



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2.  RE: Certificates of Insurance

Posted 03-18-2017 09:43
First see what your contract with the owner requires if anything.  Next check the statute of limitations in your state for tort claims and match that at a minimum. Past that its a balance of cost vs. protection. The longer the better of course

Thomas Tripodianos JD
Welby, Brady & Greenblatt, LLP
White Plains NY
(914) 607-6440

3.  RE: Certificates of Insurance

Posted 03-19-2017 14:00
Great question.

Before we put the cart before the horse, first I ask.  How long are you requiring your subs to name you as additional insured for the completed operations portion (CG 20 37)? 
Where I would require this for the jurisdiction's statute of repose (According to my read, in Wisconsin it is 10 years), most good contracts require the additional insured status for 2-3 years after completion. 
You should be collecting a certificate naming you as additional insured for completed operations for each year until the time expires.

That being said, even if you don't require the sub to name you as additional insured for completed operations for an extended period of time, you would most likely have an indemnity agreement which has no expiration.  In that case, they will have to indemnify you under the insured contract and most likely coverage would be found under their insurance policy through the contractual liability portion (with potential significant restrictions and reduction of limits of insurance). 

The statute of repose as it relates to your work is the wisest choice, with the exception of potential pollution claims.  Pollution claims have no statute of limitations or repose in most jurisdictions.  If it was alleged 20 years later that certain soil conditions were not remediated properly, and there is a suit, I would hope you can find who the remediation company's contractors pollution insurance policy is.  These claims usually come with serious allegations of increased terminal illnesses in multiple parties and get ugly really quick.  They will peg the limits of insurance, so getting all of the available coverages from all subs is critical. 

In today's world of electronic storage, I would retain it for ever. 

Ronald Hicks CIC, CRIS, CRM
Vice President
Hicks Risk Consulting
Mt Laurel NJ
(609) 314-4182

4.  RE: Certificates of Insurance

Posted 03-21-2017 08:41
I notice your firm is based in Wisconsin. The first question to ask is, "What is the statute of repose in each state where my firm performs work?" Wisconsin Statute §893.89, creates a ten year “exposure period” during which claimants can bring a cause of action arising out of any problem with the design or construction of an improvement to real property.
The second question to ask is, "Is the insured's general and/or professional liability insurance on an "Occurrence" or "Claims-Made" basis?"
Occurrence Coverage
Timing: An Occurrence policy protects you from any covered incident that “occurs” during the policy period, regardless of when a claim is filed. An occurrence policy will respond to claims that come in – even after the policy has been canceled – so long as the incident occurred during the period in which coverage was in force.

In effect, an Occurrence policy offers permanent coverage for incidents that occur during the policy period.
Limits: Occurrence limits “restore” each year so that claims paid for incidents arising from one policy year do not deplete limits available to cover claims from other years. Each year an Occurrence policy is in force represents a separate set of limits. Ten years of coverage under a $1M/$3M Occurrence policy could provide the insured protection for up to $30MM in claims (ten year combined annual aggregate limit).
Claims-made Coverage
Timing: Claims-made policies provide coverage for claims only when BOTH the alleged incident AND the resulting claim happen during the period the policy is in force. Claims made policies provide coverage so long as the insured continues to pay premiums for the initial policy and any subsequent renewals. Each succeeding year the policy is continuously renewed, the “coverage period” is extended. Once premiums stop the coverage stops. Claims made to the insurance company after the coverage period ends will not be covered, even if the alleged incident occurred while the policy was in force.
A Claims-made policy will cover claims after the coverage period ONLY if the insured purchases extended reporting period or “tail” coverage.
Limits:Claims-made limits DO NOT “restore” each year the way Occurrence Coverage limits do. The policy limits in place when the policy is purchased remain the single set of limits available to protect the insured from all claims that could arise from materials and/or services provided during the years the policy is continuously in force. The insured does not have a separate set of limits for each year the policy is in force.

Beware! Many Construction Wrap-up Insurance Programs employ Claims-made Coverage with a specified "tail" period. The problem with these policies is often they afford less coverage than a contractor's or subcontractor's regular insurance program. Also, the specific "tail" period may not comply with the statute of repose in the state in which you are conducting business.


To answer your question, I would keep a contractor's or subcontractor's certificate of insurance for at least as long as the statute of repose runs. However, a deeper dive into the type of coverage and the policy information may be the best solution in determining an appropriate time period. Not only that, but you should continue to request their certificate of insurance during the entire statute of repose for each project you construct.

Something to consider for your operations group when selecting a contractor/subcontractor is the longevity and stability of the firm. Selecting a low price may bear unintended consequences years later if a subrogation claim is made against a sub's insurance policy only to find out that the sub no longer is in business or insured.

Douglas Hutchison
Vice President /CFO/Treasurer
Meisner Electric, Inc.
Delray Beach FL
(561) 278-8362