The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in Barton v. Higgs that an unsigned certificate of insurance evidencing Workers’ Compensation is not valid unless it is dated, signed, and issued by an authorized representative of the insurance carrier.
In this case, a general contractor accepted and relied upon a certificate of insurance issued by its subcontractor’s insurance agent. The certificate of insurance was issued unsigned in error by an employee of the insurance agency. The court reasoned that the general contractor should have investigated why the certificate of insurance was not signed and should have placed a phone call to the insurance agency to investigate. Such a phone call would have uncovered the fact that the policy was not in force and the certificate was not valid.
The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission issued Section 42-1-415 (A) stating that in order to transfer liability to the fund, the higher tier contractor “must collect documentation of insurance … on a standard form acceptable to the commission”.