What Is Primary & Non-Contributory On A Certificate Of Insurance?

When providing a Certificate of Insurance to a client, vendor, or general contractor, you may be asked to include primary and non-contributory language.

Here is the technical definition of Primary and Non-Contributory as it relates to an “Additional Insured” on your general liability policy:

Primary & Non-Contributory language on a certificate of insurance means that your policy must pay before other applicable policies (primary) and without seeking contribution from other policies that also claim to be primary (noncontributory).

Still unsure what this means or the rights you’re giving away by adding this language to your policy?

Watch this short video or keep reading to learn more…

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What is Primary & Non-Contributory?

Primary & Non-Contributory (also known as PNC) language is an endorsement added to your general liability insurance policy, which grants certain additional rights to a third party requesting “Additional Insured” status on your policy.

This contractual risk transfer provides broader protections to another party (your client) in case of a liability claim.

Primary and noncontributory endorsements in commercial general liability insurance define the insurance relationship between general contractors and subcontractors, property owners and general contractors, and landlords and tenants.

Depending on the state you're working in, you may also be asked to provide PNC language on commercial auto policies and worker’s compensation insurance.

Adding Primary & Non-Contributory language to your general liability policy should not be taken lightly.

To make this concept more straight-forward, we’ll break each part down separately:


Primary refers to the priority to which coverage will respond in the event of a claim.

Suppose a client requires you to include primary and non-contributory language as part of an additional insured agreement. In that case, your client requires your insurance to be primary (respond first) before their policy.


Non-contributory means your insurance will not seek contribution (try to recoup damages) from your client’s insurance in case of a claim.

For instance, if there was a claim and both you and your client were liable, the injured party would have the right to recover damages from both you and your client’s insurance. This is the standard “Contributory” relationship that exists as a default.

However, in the same situation, with primary and non-contributory language in place, your insurance company will not seek contributions from your client’s insurance policy.

Your insurance policy takes the full brunt of the claim (and the ramifications of insurance premium increases).

READ NEXT: How to Get a Certificate of Insurance Fast

The Rub

Adding Primary and Non-contributory language broadens the protections for your client and puts more responsibility on you and your insurance carrier.

The potential ramifications of the Primary & Non-Contributory endorsement make tracking Certificates of Insurance extremely important.

Do you have a documented COI process and tracking system?

It’s OK if you answered “No.” Most businesses do not. This is where Rogue Risk can help…

Our job as insurance agents is to do more than place your insurance.

Our RogueRisk365 program (an easy-to-use software platform) helps you establish a system for requesting certificates of insurance, ensuring proper language and endorsements, and tracking COIs sent to clients and received from sub-contractors.

Certificates of Insurance don’t have to be a hassle.

Reach out today and explain exactly how our process works. Find an option below that best suits how you like to communicate:

I look forward to introducing you to a new way of viewing your insurance program.

Thank you,

Ryan Hanley

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