Curt Pearsall recently counselled agents on what action they should take if they are asked to provide a non-ACORD certificate for one of their insureds. He points out that it may well be illegal to do so in the agent's state, because the non-ACORD form is unlikely to have been approved. He offers a form of words that agents can use to explain their insistence on using a standard ACORD certificate in such circumstances.
Pearsall mentions that the agent could contact the carrier to see if “they are agreeable to honoring any unique language on the non-ACORD certificate”. But: “There is a very good chance that they will not allow you to execute the form.”
I like the phrase “unique language”. Doing business in our industry means, among other things, knowing where originality belongs – and where it can kill the business. What purpose can “unique language” serve in a certificate of insurance? The relevant passages are either intended to undermine the purpose of the document, or are unintentional variants on standard passages which then have to be interpreted and validated by experts. Either way, if an agent calls a carrier to query a non-ACORD standard certificate form, he's presenting an unnecessary and unmeasured risk.
Standards are about correct language, where “correct” means “agreed to meet the needs of the adopting parties”. Standards create assurance. Let's leave “unique language” to the poets. Curt Pearsall